Socioeconomic status and health across the life course: A test of the social causation and health selection hypotheses

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This research investigates the merits of the "social causation" and "health selection" explanations for associations between socioeconomic status and self-reported overall health, musculoskeletal health and depression. Using data that include information about individuals' SES and health from childhood through late adulthood, I employ structural equation models that account for errors in measured variables and that allow for explicit tests of various hypotheses about how SES and health are related. For each outcome and for both women and men the results provide no support for the health selection hypothesis. SES affects each health outcome at multiple points in the life course, but the reverse is not true.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2125-2154
Number of pages30
JournalSocial Forces
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Versions of this article were presented at the 2006 annual meetings of the American Sociological Association and the Gerontological Society of America. This research uses data from the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study. Since 1991, the WLS has been supported principally by the National Institute on Aging (R01-AG-9775 and P01-AG-21079), with additional support from the Vilas Estate Trust, the National Science Foundation, the Spencer Foundation, and the Graduate School of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Direct correspondence to John Robert Warren, Department of Sociology, University of Minnesota, 909 Social Sciences, 267 19th Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55455. E-mail: [email protected].


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