Socioeconomic Factors and the Health of Individuals Essay

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Socio-economic class or socio-economic status (SES) may refer to mixture of various factors such as poverty, occupation and environment. It is a way of measuring the standard and quality of life of individuals and families in society using social and economic factors that affect health and wellbeing ( Giddens and Sutton, 2013). Cockerham (2007 p75) argues: ‘Social class or socioeconomic status (SES) is the strongest predictor of health, disease causation and longevity in medical sociology.’ Research in the 1990s, (Drever and Whitehead, 1997) found out that people in higher SES are generally healthier, and live longer than those in lower SES.
The biomedical model of health has been criticised because it fails to include the
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Meltzer et al., (1995) argues that the unemployed and unskilled have more mentally unstable symptoms compared to those in employment. Also, the fear of being unemployed and job insecurity has a disadvantageous effect on health (Bartley et al., 1996).
When compared, the lifestyles of the unskilled and unemployed vary from those in employment (Moser et al., 1990) in that the unemployed, unskilled (Meltzer et al, 1995) and homeless (Stark et al., 1989) are more engaged into alcoholism, drug addictions. All these have an adverse effects on an individual’s health this has however been raised as a mental health issue (Heller et al, 1996).
Browne and Bottril (1999) did some research on class and health and came out with some findings in relation to unemployment and employment. They found out that;
• Unskilled manual workers usually die most before retirement than professional white- collar workers and those children born by professional white-collar workers tend to have longer life expectancy than someone born in by an unskilled manual worker.
• Individuals in employment live longer than those unemployed.
• People in professional occupations and working class people visited the doctors less often than those in long standing, unskilled and manual occupations.
Poverty and its effects on Health
Poverty as defined by The World Bank (2000:15) is ‘pronounced deprivation in well-being’. Well being on the other hand is maintaining a good
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