The self-reported health of British people with lower socio-economic status is worse than that of people born a century ago, suggests a large nationally representative study of more than 200,000 working-age people, published online in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.
The findings indicate that the health inequality gap has widened, storing up additional healthcare pressures from those least able to look after their own health in older age, suggests the author.
Dr Stephen Jivraj from the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at University College London used data from the British General Household Survey 1979-2011 to create pseudo birth cohorts born, 1920-1970.
The data suggested that absolute inequalities in limiting illness between the richest and poorest households have doubled in women and increased one and a half times in men for those born in 1920-1922 compared with those born in 1968-1970. Relative inequalities in limiting illness increased by a half in women and doubled in men.
Absolute inequalities in self-rated health between the richest and poorest households increased by almost half in women and more than half in men. Relative inequalities increased by 18 per cent in women and 14 per cent in men for those born in 1920-1922 compared with those born in 1968-1970.
“The results presented here show a widening in health inequalities by income in later-born British birth cohorts, 1920-1970,” writes the author.
“They point to a greater future demand in healthcare from people in society who will be least capable of managing their health as they enter ages when morbidity becomes more common,” Dr Jivraj says.