Socioeconomic status is a clear determinant on health. The more the individuals become
advantaged in terms of socioeconomic status, the better their health. The mechanisms by which
the social-economic status affects health of a person are varied. Several interrelated factors
determine health and mortality of both the young and aged. Such factors include place of
residence, income, beliefs, health-seeking behaviors, access to health care, occupation and
education. In addition, the environment where one lives determines the health status.
Socioeconomic status reveals the inequities present in the access and distribution of resources
that determine the health of the people. Research conducted indicates that people with low socio-
economic status among the aged people and the adult groups increases both their mortality and
(1) The health trends among the aged population in the United States are indicated by the
socio-economic disparities in health, which are mainly persistent in the old age (Marks, &
Worboys, 1997). The Socioeconomic status shapes the person's exposure to both materials and
psychosocial conditions that directly influence their health (Calderón-Tena et al., 2011).The
knowledge, power and money are some of the flexible resources that allow people with high
socioeconomic status to acquire protective strategies on their health. They always adopt the new
and improved ways to cater for their health needs by use of their flexible resources. It makes
them have a health advantage over an adult and aged population that is low in the socioeconomic
status. The people low in the Socioeconomic status are poor, have little or no education, and their
living conditions are poor which makes them unable to access the health care facilities. Besides,
their living conditions promote poor health. Socioeconomic status disparities are more common
in the older population than the younger one. The different experiences of social, economic
SOCIOECONOMIC STATUS AND HEALTH 3
disparities on health lead to an eventual heterogeneity among the old ages along the life course
The relationship between the socioeconomic statuses among the younger population
mortality varies as compared to the older ones (Robert et al., 2009). The potential mediating
factors include emotional support among the old especially in health decision making as well as
instrumental support in terms of the health financial aid. Lack of social ties increases the cases of
mortality in both age groups. Improvement of the psychosocial factors mediates the relationship.
However, there is no mediation effect on the socioeconomic differences resulting to disability
among the old population.
Socioeconomic differences that present through exposure to different health risks
increase their negative effects on health through adulthood to middle and old aged. The
disparities are less common among the young population than the aged. Though children from
families low in socioeconomic status have a high mortality and morbidity compared to their
higher counterparts, government intervention often reduces the cases. It makes the morbidity and
mortality less compared to the adulthood and the aged in the similar settings. However, in some
instances, the biological frailty among the aged makes the situation between both socioeconomic
status levels (Gavin et al., 2010). The socioeconomic disparities are lowest among the young
population but highest in the middle age. It gets back to the lowest level among the aged in the
population. The mechanisms to care for the health of the young population especially the
children and infants as well as the aged reduce the disparities of socioeconomic status. However,
the improved health, social and economic policies at old age results to improved health and the
effect of socio-economic status on health.
SOCIOECONOMIC STATUS AND HEALTH 4
The nursing care and the resident homes for the aged reduce the mortality and morbidity
regardless of their socioeconomic status. The socioeconomic factors such education, power,
occupation and income determine the health of a person in the life course. Education and income
of a person determines the health of a person in adulthood thereby influencing both mortality and
morbidity. For instance, morbidity is high among the people with low levels of education and
income, which determine their health seeking behaviour and their access to the medical facilities.
Education is paramount as it determines knowledge on health behaviors and seeking medical
care. People who progress into old age with a lot of wealth mainly have good health because of
health seeking and medical attention when in need. Children in the families high in social-
economic status have good health and low morbidity and mortality attributed to health insurance
and medical care. On the contrary, the ones in low social, economic status have low morbidity
attributed to low levels of income and education among the parents (Egerten et al, 2010).
(2) Ethnicity and socioeconomic factors determine the health of the population. For
instance, low socioeconomic factors and minority ethnicity are some of the risk factors to various
adverse health conditions in the United States (Link & Mckinlay, 2009). The relationship
between ethnic group status and risks to various diseases varies depending on the socio-
economic status of the groups. The risk decreases with low socio-economic status and vice-versa
(Blue, 2011). Despite the natives being heterogeneous in nature, they are socioeconomically
disadvantaged compared to the native born. It makes them have a low economic status that
affects their health seeking behaviour and investment on health insurance of their families.
Income levels are low that have a negative effect on their health through seeking medical care.
The social support especially in mothers during pregnancy has a positive impact on their birth
SOCIOECONOMIC STATUS AND HEALTH 5
outcomes. However, social support and care varies among different ethnic groups, as Hispanics
are known to have a good social support compared to Native Americans.
Research conducted in the United States indicate that the social, economic status of
Hispanics, non-Hispanic blacks and Asians was lower than the US-born non-Hispanic whites in
terms of their health insurance coverage and levels of education. It further deteriorates their
health status, as ability to seek medical care is low. Various studies reveal that the higher the
number of years of residence in the United States among the immigrant population, the higher
the improvement in their socioeconomic status and the consequent improve in their health
conditions (Ayon et al, 210). The levels of education determine the health seeking behaviour had
the risks to various diseases. For instance, studies conducted in the United States indicate that the
non-Hispanic blacks with high levels of education had a higher risk of developing mood
disorders than the non-Hispanic whites. The annual household income, employment status and
the level of education varies among the different ethnic groups in US. The affirmative action in
various states favored the Hispanic-blacks in college enrolment and work opportunities.
Consequently, their health condition tends to improve because of the increased knowledge and
levels of income out of employment (Gal et al., 2009).
Despite the varying levels of education, beliefs and health seeking behaviors among the
ethnic groups, their income levels vary slightly. Education attainment among the non-Hispanic
blacks is low compared to the whites. It results to the differences in their health especially when
other socio-economic conditions are impacted. The Hispanics have lower education level
compared to the two groups but improved health conditions. Moreover, the non-Hispanic blacks
and whites with low socioeconomic status tend to have a higher mortality, and morbidity
compared to their Hispanic counterparts (Gavin et al., 2010).
SOCIOECONOMIC STATUS AND HEALTH 6
The level of income of Hispanics is lower than non-Hispanic counterparts. Besides, the attitude
of the Hispanics, Blacks and Whites towards seeking medical care varies further explaining their
difference in health status. The health seeking attitude is higher among the Hispanics, and non-
black Hispanics compared to the white. The health seeking behaviour is mainly determined by
the level of confidence in the health care systems among the population sub-groups (Reichman et
al., 2008). However, there have been cases of racial discrimination in the medical facilities
despite the health-seeking attitude. In some instances, the blacks and Latinos do not have a
specialized medical treatment compared to their white counterparts.
(3) Despite the health and education being the major socio-economic factors determining
the health of the population, familism and the social capital plays a major role. Familism
describes the different socio-cultural models and their effects on health by encompassing the
family roles and health beliefs & perceptions (Perez & Cruess, 2011). Acculturation because of
the different ethnic groups changes the cultural beliefs hence the health seeking behaviour. Low
socioeconomic status having detrimental effects on health is often associated with Hispanic
minorities who have low levels of income. The cultural beliefs of blacks and Hispanics make
them develop a positive health seeking behaviour compared to the whites who often lack
confidence in health care systems (Santos & Ebrahim, 2008).
The social supports explain the differences in socio-economic status on health. Ethnic
groups that undergo changes in cultural structures alter the social support and therefore the
explanation of the negative health effects of low social, economic status (Cutler & Harvard
University, 2008). Besides, the social ties have a negative effect on mortality among the elderly
because of the increase in behavioral risk factors (Vonneilich et al., 2012). Social behaviors are
more common among the children and adolescents than in the old generation hence the
SOCIOECONOMIC STATUS AND HEALTH 7
differences in socio-economic status on mortality between the age groups. The Mexican
Americans embrace familism and interpersonal relationship amongst themselves hence positive
effects in their health as compared to the Hispanics and the whites. Familism promotes social
behaviors such as action and help in times of need and emergencies that in turn promote health
(William et al., 2010).
Health conditions deteriorate because of poor social, economic status as well as family
support and the social roles of the sub-groups. It is because the social support protects against
physiological conditions resulting from poor health conditions by low social status.
Acculturation of the Hispanics and other subgroups results to the improvement in health status
through screening and preventive health practices (Abbott & Freeth, 2008). Hispanics maintain
some cultural values that have relevance to their health. The strong family ties among the
Hispanics are higher compared to other non-Hispanic groups making them seek medical
attention frequently when faced with a health problem (Dornelas et al., 2014). However,
fatalistic beliefs among the Mexican Americans are barriers to preventive health and early
SOCIOECONOMIC STATUS AND HEALTH 8
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