Comparing inequalities in women's and men's health: Britain in the 1990s

Soc Sci Med. 1997 Mar;44(6):773-87. doi: 10.1016/s0277-9536(96)00185-2.


Data on over 20,000 women and men aged 20-59 are analysed from the British General Household Survey for 1991 and 1992, showing the importance of separately analysing educational qualifications, occupational class and employment status for both women and men. Own occupational class and employment status are the key structural factors associated with limiting long-standing illness, but educational qualifications are particularly good predictors of women's self-assessed health. Class inequalities in health are less pronounced among women who are not in paid work. Women's limiting long-standing illness relates solely to their own labour market characteristics, whereas self-assessed health relates to wider aspects of women's everyday lives, including their household material conditions, and for married women, their partner's occupational class and employment status. Men's unemployment has adverse consequences for the health of their wives, which occurs through the mechanism of the family living in disadvantaged material circumstances. Women's labour market position and role in the family have undergone substantial changes since the 1970s. Approaches to measuring inequalities in women's health need to reflect changes in women's employment participation and changes in marital status and living arrangements.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Educational Status
  • Employment
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marriage
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Justice
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology
  • Women's Health*