The Impact of Social Inequalities on Personal Health
Health care costs in Switzerland are among the highest worldwide. Revealing the contribution of social inequalities on personal health might point to less costly alternatives for public health. This paper analyzes the effects of social environment on individual health. A growing body of literature posits that social position and relationships are important for well-being. Material circumstances (deprivation, poverty, financial situation) are among the most well-examined factors regarding their impact on personal health. Recent research indicates that health also varies according to the social and material circumstances experienced during youth. Different social environments are considered to hold different risks for the individuals involved and entail different social policy measures. The Swiss Household Panel survey provides a unique data set collecting information on a variety of issues for same individuals over time. It provides a short-term (panel) and a longer-term (social origin) temporal perspective, and allows for a dynamic analysis of changes in health of individuals in Switzerland. A structural equation model identifies causal pathways. Implications for public health policies for individual health are discussed.
KeywordsSocial Environment Social Position Social Inequality Personal Health Financial Situation
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