Estimating direct effects of parental occupation on Spaniards’ health by birth cohortReport as inadecuate

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BMC Public Health

, 17:26

Health behavior, health promotion and society


BackgroundSocial health inequalities in adult population are partly due to socioeconomic circumstances in childhood. A better understanding of how those circumstances affect health during adulthood may improve the opportunities for reducing health disparities. The objective of this study is to investigate the effect of parental socioeconomic status, which is proxied by occupation, on adult Spaniards’ health by birth cohort. The analysis will allow checking not only the direct impact of parental occupation on their offspring’s health, but also whether inherited inequality has been reduced over time.

MethodsWe use data from the Bank of Spain’s Survey of Household Finances on Spanish households from 2002 to 2008. Sequential models were used to estimate the influence of the father’s and mother’s occupation on their offspring’s health, trying to disentangle direct from indirect effects. With a sample of 26,832 persons we consider effects for four different cohorts by birth periods ranging from 1916 to 1981.

ResultsThe results show that parental occupation has a significant direct impact on individuals’ health p < 0.01. The effect of father’s occupation exceeds that of mother’s. For those born before 1936, the probability of reporting a good health status ranges from 0.31 95% confidence interval CI 0.14–0.48, when fathers were classified as unskilled elementary workers, to 0.98 95% CI 0.98–0.99 when they were managers or mid-level professionals. For those born during the period 1959–1975, those probabilities are 0.49 95% CI 0.39–0.59 and 0.97 95% CI 0.96–0.98, respectively. Therefore, health inequalities linked to parental socioeconomic status have been noticeably reduced, although discrimination against unskilled workers persists over time.

ConclusionsGreat progress has been made in the health area during the twentieth century, so that the impact of parental socioeconomic status on individuals’ health has been significantly tempered for those at the bottom of the social scale. However, more efforts focused on the improvement of living conditions for most socioeconomically disadvantaged are needed in order to further reduce social inequalities in health.

KeywordsIntergenerational transmission Self-assessed health Socioeconomic status Cohort effects AbbreviationsCIConfidence interval

EFFSpanish Survey of Household Finances Encuesta Financiera de las Familias

ISCOInternational Standard Classification of Occupations

OECDOrganization of Economic Cooperation and Development

SAHSelf-assessed health

SESSocioeconomic status

SHARESurvey of Health, Aging and Retirement in Europe

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Author: Jaime Pinilla - Beatriz G. Lopez-Valcarcel - Rosa M. Urbanos-Garrido


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