Oris, Michel; Gabriel, Rainer; Fagot, Delphine
University of Geneva, Switzerland (CIGEV & LIVES)
Given the paradox of continuing persistence of socioeconomic inequalities in health in European countries, we focus on investigating the factors that are associated with physical and mental health in old-age. We use a dataset based on a survey named Vivre/Leben/Vivere which harvested the health and living conditions of the Swiss elderly aged 65 and more in 2011-2012. The sample was stratified by region, sex and by five years age group. Some 3080 individuals filled a life calendar. First, we measure the deep social differentials in both physical and psychic health among the Swiss aged 65 and more. Then, we look at the life course construction of those inequalities, testing several hypotheses: the social stratification or early life conditions; the accumulation of (dis)advantages; social mobility; selection; and the ‘biographization’ hypothesis which insists on the impact of critical life events. Following Mackenbach, we also analyze the impact of personality traits. Our results support the social stratification, the selection, and to some extent the critical events explanations, but not accumulation, maybe because of the institutional filters of the welfare state. They also demonstrate a strong effect of some personality traits. However, the socioeconomic inequalities in health are never affected, suggesting a relative independence.