Intergenerational social mobility and health in later life: Diagonal reference models applied to the Lothian Birth Cohort 1936

J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2022 Aug 11:gbac107. doi: 10.1093/geronb/gbac107. Online ahead of print.


OBJECTIVE: Although commonly used to model associations between intergenerational social mobility and health, linear regression cannot estimate the contributions of origin, destination and mobility independently. Non-linear Diagonal Reference Models (DRMs) have become a popular alternative and have been applied to various health outcomes, though few studies examine the impact of social mobility on later-life health.

METHODS: This study revisits health outcomes examined in the Lothian Birth Cohort 1936, using DRMs to assess the association between intergenerational social mobility and satisfaction with life, self-rated health, depression, and mortality from age 68-82 years.

RESULTS: After adjusting for sex, age, education and childhood cognitive ability there was no evidence of an association between intergenerational social mobility and later-life health; participants experiencing upward or downward mobility had similar odds of poor health outcomes as non-mobile participants. However, those from higher occupational social classes exhibited lower odds of mortality (p = 0.01), with a stronger contribution of adult (own) than of childhood (father’s) social class (Weights = 0.75 vs. 0.25). No other outcomes demonstrated significant associations with socioeconomic position.

DISCUSSION: This adds to evidence that social mobility does not influence variation in later-life health once other factors – including socioeconomic origins and destinations – are accounted for.

PMID:35952386 | DOI:10.1093/geronb/gbac107

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