Household income and health status in children and adolescents in Britain

Eur J Public Health. 2006 Aug;16(4):354-60. doi: 10.1093/eurpub/cki200. Epub 2005 Oct 5.


Background: Mortality, health, and well-being across the lifespan are associated with socioeconomic position (typically operationalised as occupational status). There is some evidence that adolescence represents a period of 'relative equalisation' of health inequalities. Our aim was to examine the association between inequalities in household income and health in childhood and adolescence.

Methods: Cross-sectional survey using multistage stratified random sample of households in Britain. Information was collected on 10438 children aged 5-15 years.

Results: Low levels of equivalised household income was associated with poorer health for 13 out of the 22 indicators examined (odds ratio P < 0.05 for > or =1 income quintile). Multivariate analyses controlling for child characteristics, parental socioeconomic status and household composition indicated that low levels of equivalised household income increased the odds of poor health for 9 out of the 22 indicators examined. There was little evidence of any systematic differences in the extent of health inequalities across age groups (5-10 and 11-15 years).

Conclusion: Household income is related to a range of health outcomes for children and adolescents, even when other indicators of socioeconomic status are taken into account. We found little evidence that adolescence represents a period of relative equalisation of health inequalities.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Income*
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Social Class*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology