Psychosocial Resources and Health Inequalities in France
Posted: 25 Jun 2007
This study addresses the issue of psychosocial determinants of health, i.e. non material resources such as social capital, social support, and sense of control or self-esteem. We firstly analyse their impact on health status in addition to material and biological determinants. We then measure the social differences in access to these resources. Lastly, put aside psychosocial factors can partly explain social inequalities in health in France.
Whereas the impact of psychosocial resources on health is most often described from a "contextual" perspective, considering that a higher level of resources in the area improves health on average for individuals living in the area, psychosocial resources are here assessed at the individual level to take into account the actual or perceived access of individuals to the level of resources.
We use a general population survey, representative of employed individuals aged 16 to 64 living in France in 2004, to study the association between health status and the subjective perception of social capital, social support, sense of control and self-esteem, controlling for standard socio-demographic factors (occupation, income, education, age and gender). Several health outcomes are considered: self-assessed health, long term activity limitations, main chronic conditions, obesity, tobacco consumption, and chronic excessive alcohol consumption.
We find empirical support for the link between the subjective perception of psychosocial resources and health or health-related behaviours. More specifically health status is positively associated with access to social capital, emotional support and sense of control at work. Since access to psychosocial resources is not equally distributed in the population, these findings suggest that psychosocial factors can partly explain social inequalities in health in France.
Keywords: social capital, social support, relative deprivation, sense of control, social health inequalities
JEL Classification: J120, I100
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