A Theory of Socioeconomic Disparities in Health Over the Life Cycle
71 Pages Posted: 11 Jul 2015 Last revised: 11 Nov 2015
Date Written: July 8, 2015
Understanding of the substantial disparity in health between socioeconomic status (SES) groups is hampered by the lack of a sufficiently comprehensive theoretical framework to interpret empirical facts and to predict yet untested relations. Motivated by the observation that medical care explains only a relatively small part of the SES-health gradient, we present a life-cycle model that incorporates several additional behaviors that potentially explain (jointly) a large part of the observed disparities. In our model, choices regarding lifestyle, working conditions, labor-force participation, living conditions, and health investment, provide mechanisms through which SES, health, and longevity are related. As a result, the model provides not only a conceptual framework for the SES-health gradient but also more generally an improved framework for the production of health.
Keywords: socioeconomic status, health, human capital, health behavior
JEL Classification: D91, I10, I12, I14, J24
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation