Work-family lifecourses and later-life health in the United Kingdom

Publication type

Journal Article


Publication date

June 15, 2021


Socio-economic inequalities in physical and mental health persist at older ages and previous studies have shown that partnership and parenthood histories are also associated with differentials in later-life health. These domains of adult life interact, and both may be influenced by earlier life circumstances, indicating a need for a holistic approach to understanding lifecourse influences on health at older ages. In this paper, we identify classes of lifecourse types for a United Kingdom (UK) cohort born 1933–1945 and investigate differences between the latent classes identified in physical and mental health, and changes in health over a five-year follow-up period. Data were drawn from Waves 1–5 (2009–2013) of the nationally representative UK Household Longitudinal Study. Multi-level models were used to analyse associations with summary indicators of physical and mental health measured using the SF-12, and changes in health, controlling for childhood circumstances and taking account of support from family and friends in later life. Lifecourses characterised by lower socio-economic position, early parenthood and large family size were associated with worse physical and mental health in later life, with respondents who had combined a high socio-economic position and two children being the most advantaged. The study indicates that socio-economic disparities in later-life health vary depending on the way in which individuals combine work and family life.

Published in

Ageing and Society

Volume and page numbers

Volume: 41 , p.1 -1









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