Health and inequality over the life cycle -PhD Thesis-

Publication type

Thesis/Degree/Other Honours


Publication date

June 1, 2006


The essays included in this thesis focus on the objectives of the ECuity III Project, which are introduced in Chapter 1.

Chapter 2 explores reporting bias and heterogeneity in the measure of self-assessed health (SAH) used in the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS). The ninth wave of the BHPS includes the SF-36 general health questionnaire, which incorporates a different wording to the self-assessed health variable used at other waves. Considerable attention has been devoted to the reliability of SAH and the scope for contamination by measurement error. The change in wording at wave 9 provides a form of natural experiment that allows us to assess the sensitivity of panel data analyses to a change in the measurement instrument. In particular, we investigate reporting bias due explicitly to the change in the question.

Chapter 3 measures socioeconomic inequalities in health across European Union Member States between 1994 and 2001. The analysis is based on the European Community Household Panel Users’ Database and uses two binary indicators of health limitations for the full 8 waves of available data. Short and long-run concentration indices together with mobility and health achievement indices are derived for indicators of severe health limitation and any health limitation. Results demonstrate the existence of socio economic inequality in health across Member States in both the short-term (1 year) and the long-term (up to 8 years), with health limitations concentrated among those with lower incomes. For all countries, the long-run indices show that income-related inequalities in health widen over time, in the sense that the longer the period over which an individual’s health and income are measured, the greater is the measure of income-related health inequality.

Chapter 4 investigates dynamics, heterogeneity and the effect of socioeconomic characteristics on health limitations within and between the EU-15 Member States. In particular, we are interested in whether and to what extent, socioeconomic characteristics such as education, income and job status affect health limitations and how this varies across time and countries for the 8 waves of data available in the European Community Household Panel (ECHP).



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