Socioeconomic position and self-rated health: the contribution of childhood socioeconomic circumstances, adult socioeconomic status, and material resources

Am J Public Health. 2005 Aug;95(8):1403-9. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2004.047969. Epub 2005 Jul 7.


Objectives: We examined socioeconomic inequalities in self-rated health by analyzing indicators of childhood socioeconomic circumstances, adult socioeconomic position, and current material resources.

Methods: We collected data on middle-aged adults employed by the City of Helsinki (n=8970; 67% response rate). Associations between 7 socioeconomic indicators and health self-ratings of less than "good" were examined with sequential logistic regression models.

Results: After adjustment for age, each socioeconomic indicator was inversely associated with self-rated health. Childhood economic difficulties, but not parental education, were associated with health independently of all other socioeconomic indicators. The associations of respondents' own education and occupational class with health remained when adjusted for other socioeconomic indicators. Home ownership and economic difficulties, but not household income, were the material indicators associated with health after full adjustment.

Conclusions: Own education and occupational class showed consistent associations with health, but the association with income disappeared after adjustment for other socioeconomic indicators. The effect of parental education on health was mediated by the respondent's own education. Both childhood and adulthood economic difficulties showed clear associations with health and with conventional socioeconomic indicators.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Finland / epidemiology
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Poverty*
  • Risk Factors
  • Self Concept*
  • Social Class*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Urban Health / statistics & numerical data*