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Educational attainment, gender and health inequalities among older adults in Catalonia (Spain)
Solé Auró, Aïda; Alcañiz, Manuela
Background: Health expectancies vary worldwide according to socioeconomic status (SES), with health disadvantages being evident among lower SES groups. Using educational attainment as a proxy of SES, we seek to identify trends in SES differentials in health by gender, with a particular focus on individuals with low educational attainment in the adult Catalan population (Spain) aged 55 or older. Methods: Using cross-sectional data for 1994 and 2010-2014 drawn from the Catalan Health Survey, we examined three health indicators to document social health inequalities: self-perceived health, functional limitations, and restrictions on activities of daily living (ADL). We applied logistic models for each indicator, controlling for sociodemographic characteristics, health coverage and health behaviours./nResults: Among the less-educated, females presented a greater improvement in their self-perceived health over time than did their male counterparts, there being no significant variations among the medium/high educated. Regardless of education, males showed an increase in the prevalence of functional problems (as did the women, but the increase was not statistically significant). Both genders presented a higher prevalence of limitations when performing ADL in the second time period. The gender health gap was reduced slightly both for the low and the medium/high educated, expect in the case of ADL restrictions. Health and functioning differences by education level persisted, but showed significant signs of reduction./nConclusions: Less-educated females constitute the most disadvantaged group in terms of health and personal autonomy, though there are encouraging signs that the gap is closing both in terms of gender and level of education. Health policymakers need to devote particular attention to the aging population with low SES, especially to women. Public programmes promoting greater protection and equity, while fostering preventive and healthy practices, need to target the most underprivileged.
This study was supported by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation under Grant ECO2013-48326-C2-1-P; the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness under Grant ECO2015-66314-R.
Health inequalities
Socioeconomic status
Aging population
Logistic models
© 2016 The Author(s). Open Access. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
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