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SES and Health

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Socio-economic-status, SES for short is the social position one obtains within a societal hierarchy; one would also describe it as being the economical and sociological construction of an individuals experience with work. Equally it is of their inherited economic and social position. All of this being based on occupation, education and income. Blaxter states how there seems to be more focus on the part played by single responsibility. An example would be how one may treat their body poorly by smoking and drinking alcohol compared to exercising and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

There are multiple definitions of health. For example health is the condition of being free from sickness or physical harm; or, the state of ones mental or physical being. Further in this assignment there will be the discussion of what can be learnt from research of ones health across the duration of ones life. Referring to the nature of the correlation between socio-economic-status and health; also the apparent causes of this relationship. Equally there will be the exploration of types of theories, concepts and methods within the field of psychology and the aftermath of conflicting circumstances on well-being and health. This would include studies by Case et al(2005), Cohen (2004), Bartley (2017) and a few others.

The nature of the relationship between socio-economic-status and health could be learnt from Case et al (2005) and his research associated with the 1958 national Child development study. This study included children that were born in England during the week of the Third of march 1958. These children were followed up at the ages of seven, eleven, sixteen, twenty three, thirty three and forty two. Case identified a low birth weight and a number of chronic health conditions with children that were aged seven. He then foresaw the educational achievement when the children were sixteen. The numerical figure of chronic health conditions at seven and sixteen then allowed Case to predict the adult occupational class at the ages of thirty three and forty two. Moreover Case looked at the aftermath of parental socio-economic-status in childhood and adult health; more precisely the mother’s and father’s education and occupation at the time of their Childs birth; Case then further predicting that child’s adult health when turning forty two.

Equally, Cohen et al (2004) looked at the way an individual is particularly vulnerable towards the common cold. In his study, Cohen injected a cold virus through the nasal of 334 adult participants. He then asked these participants to remember childhood parental home ownership; the effect being independent from: BMI, own education, private home-ownership and participants parental education. His results showed that 61 participants (45%) who had a cold amongst the infected had parents who owned a home for 0-6 years. 59 participants (37%) who had cold amongst the infected had parents who had owned a home for 7-17 years and lastly 31% of participants (78) who had a cold amongst the infected had parents whom owned a home for 18 years.

There is appended evidence for both: effects of health on ones socio-economic-status and the effect of ones socio-economic-status on their health. However it is hard to distinguish which is the cause and which is the effect. Weightman et al (2012) in the UK looked at employment class and its affect on low birth weight; the odds ratio was 80% more likely when in comparison with the lowest and highest SES. Larson and Halfon (2009) in the USA used income and its link with obesity. There was the odds ratio of 80% more likely when distinguished with the highest and lowest socio-economic-status. Larson and Halfon also looked at the relation between income and both sever and moderate asthma. Where the odds ratio was 350% more likely when compared with lowest and highest socio-economic-status. What these studies indicate is that there is a clear correlation between income, occupational class and health risks such as low birth weight, obesity and asthma. However one cannot discern as to which factor was the cause and which was the effect.

Similarly Attar, Guerra and Tolan’s (1994) research focuses on socio-economic-status and early life stress. Their study involved 384 US children ranging from the age of six up to the age of ten and whom lived in deprived neighbourhoods. They discovered that the level of neighbourhood deprivation is correlated with the larger threat of exposure to stressful situations.

Furthermore Lantz et al (2005) conducted a study of 3,500 US participants; measuring: income and education, types of self-reported stress and negative life events and mortality. He takes into account stress and negative live events. This further explains how there is a 35-45 percentage of a relationship between income and mortality.

Likewise, Liu et al (1998) investigated 4000 participants who were Taiwanese. He measured their education, social participation and emotional support and mortality. Similar to Lantz. Liu found that there were psychosocial factors that explain 26% of effect of SES on mortality where there was only 9% of health behaviours that were explained.

Cutler and Lleras-Muney’s study can be used as an explanation oh how childhood experiences can affect adult health as they looked at how aspects such as an individuals income and employment only clarify 30% of the correlation between education and health. They also found information of the effects of health where behaviours are typically high across all levels of education where ~90% are in developed countries. On the contrary Cutler and Lleras-Muney’s research doesn’t seem to explain any sort of difference in health behaviours across socio-economic-status.

Moreover Bartley (2017) found surprising evidence on how childhood experiences still affect adult physical and mental health after decades later. He states how there are the critical and sensitive periods, accumulation of disadvantage and pathways models.

Conversely, Nobel et al (2012) looks at stress and socio-emotional development. The study implies how there is a relation between neural stimuli of socio-economic-status in the developing brain. There were 60 participants, all of Us children and adolescents. Nobel looked at structural brain scans. She concluded that a lower socio-economic-status meant that there was a lower hippocampal volume and higher amygdala volume.

To conclude one may argue that what can be learnt from the studies of health across the life span regarding the nature of the relationship between socio-economic-status and health as well as the possible causes of this relationship is that the correlation between ones educational growth, deprivation or parental occupational class is evedent towards ones health may it be low birth weight, eating habits, viruses et cetera. However there isn’t a clear indication as to whether ones health is the cause of a low socio-economic-status or that a low socio-economic-status is the cause of bad health.

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