Drawing from cumulative disadvantage and cumulative inequality theory we examine how childhood conditions and educational attainment interact in bringing about health inequality in later life. We examine the mediating and the moderating roles of education in explaining the link between parental socioeconomic status during childhood (childhood SES) and later life health from a longitudinal and cross-national perspective. For these purposes we use five panel waves covering more than ten years from 2004 to 2015 plus retrospective childhood information in 14 European countries and Israel from the Survey of Health, Ageing, and Retirement in Europe (SHARE). The results show that, first, childhood SES affects later life health both indirectly (via educational attainment) and directly (net of education); second, childhood SES and education health gaps vary little over the life course but heavily across countries; and third, while showing additive effects of childhood SES and education in most countries, some countries support resource multiplication and some show a compensating influence of education (resource substitution). We conclude by discussing theoretical implications of our results for the international, longitudinal assessment of mechanisms of cumulative disadvantage.
This project is conducted in cooperation with Fabian Kratz (LMU, University of Munich).