NorLAG Den norske studien av livsløp, aldring og generasjon

Social health inequalities

Explaining health inequalities in an ageing population: Social pathways and linked lives

Improvements in life-expectancy and healthy life-years have predominantly occurred among higher socioeconomic status groups in Norway, thereby contributing to an increased gap in health by socioeconomic position over time and to the emergence of new patterns of social health inequalities in later life. Compositional changes, notably an increase in educational attainment, strengthen these Developments.

Few studies explore the complex pathways between socioeconomic position and health and wellbeing in later life, especially in a Norwegian setting.

As health and welfare systems vary cross-culturally, Norwegian policy makers will need more knowledge on how one may intervene to slow down further accumulation of inequalities and postpone or compress the onset of health-compromising morbidity in later life. It may also help in the design of interventions aimed to enhance quality of life and wellbeing in later life.

The project has a life course perspective and uses large-scale longitudinal survey data from two waves of the NorLAG survey and the nationally representative LOGG survey, which is also included in the international Generations and Gender Survey (GGS).

Two key aspects of the life-course perspective are emphasized: social pathways and linked lives. The novel contribution of this project lies in the availability of relatively large and comparative samples of older men and women with retrospective as well as prospective survey and register data.

This enables studying multiple social pathways including how socioeconomic status predictors at different time points, work and family histories, health behaviours and psychosocial factors may relate to health and wellbeing in late life. Also the influence of family constellations and community characteristics on social health inequalities will be explored.

Results from the project will be published in a doctoral thesis, international journals and on the website of the NorLAG study.

Participants (all NOVA): Marijke Veenstra (head), Thomas Hansen, Marja Aartsen and Maja Weemes Grøtting (PhD candidate).

Project period: 1/10/2013-30/9/2016

Funding: The Research Council of Norway

Project number: 50813