Measuring the socioeconomic status of elderly people in health studies with special focus on minority elderly

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Abstract

In recent years there has been increasing interest in how socioeconomic status (SES) interacts with minority status to influence health outcomes among older people. In this article we review some common measures of SES and discuss their strengths and weaknesses when applied to the study of the health and mental health of minority elderly. These include: education, income, occupational status and background, composite indices of the three, wealth and assets, poverty, and neighborhood socioeconomic conditions. Examples draw on the Hispanic Established Population for Epidemiological Studies of the Elderly (EPESE) and the study of Assets and Health Dynamics among the Oldest Old (AHEAD). We recommend that at a minimum studies of minority elderly need to assess educational attainment, occupational status and background, and income and financial assets. We also recommend that comparative studies consider oversampling both higher SES minority elderly as well as lower SES Non-Hispanic Whites enabling the assessment of differences in the meaning of SES in different ethnic contexts. We conclude that any knowledge that might help eliminate SES and ethnic disparities in the health of older people must come from studies conducted earlier in life.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)53-66
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Mental Health and Aging
Volume7
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2001

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Social Class
Health
Poverty
Hispanic Americans
Epidemiologic Studies
Mental Health
Education
Population

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

Cite this

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title = "Measuring the socioeconomic status of elderly people in health studies with special focus on minority elderly",
abstract = "In recent years there has been increasing interest in how socioeconomic status (SES) interacts with minority status to influence health outcomes among older people. In this article we review some common measures of SES and discuss their strengths and weaknesses when applied to the study of the health and mental health of minority elderly. These include: education, income, occupational status and background, composite indices of the three, wealth and assets, poverty, and neighborhood socioeconomic conditions. Examples draw on the Hispanic Established Population for Epidemiological Studies of the Elderly (EPESE) and the study of Assets and Health Dynamics among the Oldest Old (AHEAD). We recommend that at a minimum studies of minority elderly need to assess educational attainment, occupational status and background, and income and financial assets. We also recommend that comparative studies consider oversampling both higher SES minority elderly as well as lower SES Non-Hispanic Whites enabling the assessment of differences in the meaning of SES in different ethnic contexts. We conclude that any knowledge that might help eliminate SES and ethnic disparities in the health of older people must come from studies conducted earlier in life.",
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