Aims: An analysis was undertaken to investigate social inequalities in health among old men and women in relation to five indicators of social position.
Methods: The study is based on a population-based cross-sectional survey among 748 75-year-old men and women, which was performed as clinical examinations and interviews in 1989 in Glostrup, a suburban area west of Copenhagen. Social position was measured by vocational education, occupation, social class, income, and housing tenure. Health was measured by number of chronic diseases, tiredness in relation to mobility, need of help in relation to mobility, oral health (number of teeth), and well-being (the CES-D Scale). The statistical analysis included bivariate contingency tables and logistic regression analyses.
Results: Two material wealth variables (income and tenure) were consistently related to nearly all health measures while the relationships between the other social position variables and health showed no consistent patterns. Multiple logistic regression analyses with tenure and income as independent variables and each of the health variables as dependent variables and control for education and occupation showed different patterns for men and women. In men the odds ratios of housing tenure on four health variables were strong and unaffected by education and occupation while in women the odds ratios of income on three health variables were strong and unaffected by education and occupation.
Conclusion: This study demonstrates strong, consistent associations between variables of material wealth indicators and various measures of health among 75-year-old men and women.