Socioeconomic Factors and the Health of Individuals

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Socio-economic class or socio-economic status (SES) may refer to mixture of various factors such as poverty, occupation and environment. It is a way of measuring the standard and quality of life of individuals and families in society using social and economic factors that affect health and wellbeing ( Giddens and Sutton, 2013). Cockerham (2007 p75) argues: ‘Social class or socioeconomic status (SES) is the strongest predictor of health, disease causation and longevity in medical sociology.’ Research in the 1990s, (Drever and Whitehead, 1997) found out that people in higher SES are generally healthier, and live longer than those in lower SES.

The biomedical model of health has been criticised because it fails to include the psychological and social causes relating to an individual’s medical illness or health, looking only at the biological causes (Giddens and Sutton, 2013). Therefore, sociologists being aware of the impacts of social structure and lifestyle on health have put in various efforts to place the study of ‘the social’ at the core of health and healthcare examination.

The essay will be looking at , poverty, employment and unemployment, poor diets as determinants of health in this context amongst other factors such as housing, mental health, social support network, education, culture, individual behaviours, genetics, gender because they have the best documented evidence on research in health inequalities in Britain available in the Black Report (DHSS 1980; Townsend, Davidson and Whitehead, 1992), Acheson Report (Acheson 1998), and FairSociety, HealthyLives Report, and other academic sources.

Employment and unemployment and its effects on health

People out of employment have poor health as compared to tho...

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Moser, K., Goldblatt, P., Fox, J. and Jones, D. (1990) ‘Unemployment and Mortality’, in Goldblatt, P. (ed.), Longitudinal Study: Mortality and Social Organisation 1971-81, OPCS LS 6, London: HMSO

Stark, C., Scott, J. and Mill, M. (1989) A Survey of the ‘Long Stay’ Users of DSS Resettlement Units: a research report, London, Department of Social Security.

Townsend, P., Whitehead, M. and Davidson, N. (eds) (1992) Inequalities in Health: the Black Report and the health divide, Harmondsworth, Penguin.

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