Income-related inequality in health and health-related behaviour: exploring the equalisation hypothesis

Laura Vallejo-Torres, Daniel R. Hale, Stephen Morris, Russell M. Viner

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    26 Citations (Scopus)


    BACKGROUND: Previous studies have found the socioeconomic gradient in health among adolescents to be lower than that observed during childhood and adulthood. The aim of this study was to examine income-related inequalities in health and health-related behaviour across the lifespan in England to explore 'equalisation' in adolescence.

    METHODS: We used five years of data (2006-2010) from the Health Survey for England to explore inequalities in six indicators: self-assessed general health, longstanding illness, limiting longstanding illness, psychosocial wellbeing, obesity and smoking status. We ran separate analyses by age/gender groups. Inequality was measured using concentration indices.

    RESULTS: Our findings for longstanding illnesses, psychosocial wellbeing and obesity were consistent with the equalisation hypothesis. For these indicators, the extent of income-related inequality was lower among late adolescents (16-19 years) and young adults (20-24 years) compared to children and young adolescents (under 15 years), mid- and late-adults (25-44 and 45-64 years) and the elderly (65+ years). The remaining indicators showed lower inequality among adolescents compared to adults, but higher inequality when compared with children.

    CONCLUSIONS: Our work shows that inequalities occur across the life-course but that for some health issues there may be a period of equalisation in late adolescence and early adulthood.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)615-621
    Number of pages7
    JournalJournal of Epidemiology and Community Health
    Issue number7
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2014


    • Adolescent
    • Adult
    • Aged
    • Child
    • Child, Preschool
    • England
    • Health Behavior
    • Health Status Disparities
    • Health Status Indicators
    • Health Surveys
    • Humans
    • Income
    • Infant
    • Infant, Newborn
    • Male
    • Middle Aged
    • Models, Theoretical
    • Social Class
    • Young Adult
    • Journal Article
    • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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