Socioeconomic status and health redux: New evidence from England in a comparative context
People with higher socioeconomic status (SES) enjoy superior health. For the US, it is especially difficult to identify pathways underpinning this relationship, as it likely reflects differences in access to health care in addition to other factors correlated with SES. In England, however, access to care is universal, so that if SES is positively correlated with health, its main effects must come via alternative pathways other than access to care. This dissertation investigates the effects of SES on health outcomes, and vice versa, using the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA). As the ELSA is similar to the US Health and Retirement Study, I compare the SES-health relation between countries. I find that the effect of SES on health is significant in England, with wealth the most important in guarding against negative health outcomes. However, for lower SES individuals, there are important differences between countries, suggesting that access to care has its largest effect among the least advantaged. Furthermore, new health events affect the economic resources of English individuals less than their US counterparts. Finally, there is evidence among married couples that wives respond to their husbands' new health conditions by increasing market labor hours---i.e., an 'added worker effect.'