Community-level socioeconomic status effects on adult health

J Health Soc Behav. 1998 Mar;39(1):18-37.


Do the socioeconomic characteristics of a community affect one's health? This research examines whether the socioeconomic characteristics of communities are associated with the health of community residents, over and above the socio-economic characteristics of individual residents and their families. This is the first study to examine the independent associations between community-level socio-economic status (SES) and individual-level health using a nationally representative sample of adults in the United States. Results indicate that a person's health is associated with SES characteristics of the community over and above one's own income, education, and assets. However, individual-level and family-level SES indicators are stronger predictors of health than community-level SES indicators. This research suggests that improving individual-level and family-level socioeconomic circumstances may be the more direct way to improve the health of individuals, but that understanding the community context in which a person lives may also ultimately be important to improving health.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Community Medicine
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Regression Analysis
  • Social Class*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United States