Gender Differences in Material, Psychological, and Social Domains of the Income Gradient in Mortality: Implications for Policy

We set out to examine the material, psychological, and sociological pathways mediating the income gradient in health and mortality. We used the 2008 General Social Survey-National Death Index dataset (N = 26,870), which contains three decades of social survey data in the US linked to thirty years of mortality follow-up. We grouped a large number of variables into 3 domains: material, psychological, and sociological using factor analysis. We then employed discrete-time hazard models to examine the extent to which these three domains mediated the income-mortality association among men and women. Overall, the gradient was weaker for females than for males. While psychological and material factors explained mortality hazards among females, hazards among males were explained only by social capital. Poor health significantly predicted both income and mortality, particularly among females, suggesting a strong role for reverse causation. We also find that many traditional associations between income and mortality are absent in this dataset, such as perceived social status.

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