Using data from the Survey of Health, Aging and Retirement in Europe (SHARE), this study examines the links between objective health, measured by maximal isometric hand grip strength, and socio-economic position. This project investigates the relation between education and health via both (1) direct and (2) indirect pathways through other socio-economic aspects like occupational status or income as well as (3) through behavioural risk factors such as smoking, heavy drinking, physical inactivity and obesity. Maximal isometric hand grip strength has proven to be a reliable predictor of functional disability, morbidity and mortality (Rantanen et al. 1999, Griffith et al. 1989, Sasaki et al. 2007). Therefore, repeated grip strength measures are used in this paper to examine whether differences in objective health can be related to socio-economic position. Results confirm the positive association between education and objective health. However the educational effect grows significantly smaller when adding other socio-economic factors. Thus, a large part of the effect is mediated through occupational status and income. In accordance with the literature, higher occupational status is related with better health on every level of the social gradient. Additionally, it can be shown that individual health behaviour also plays a role. Although smoking and drinking are not significantly associated with grip strength, health inequalities due to educational differences can partly be explained by physical inactivity which is negatively associated with objective health.
15.03.2016 - 30.11.2017 / SHARE - Research
Socio-Economic Status and Grip Strength in Old Age