Helseulikhet i Europa - Et fundamental cause-perspektiv på sammenhengen mellom sosioøkonomisk posisjon og sannsynligheten for helseproblemer
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This paper studies health inequalities in Europe. The purpose of this study is to shed some light on the association between socioeconomic position and health. According to the fundamental cause theory, people of higher socioeconomic position have better access to flexible resources (such as money, knowledge, power, prestige and social connections), which they can use to reduce the risk of health problems. However, this only applies when knowledge about prevention of health problems is available. According to the theory, health inequality therefore tends to be larger in preventable health problems than in less preventable health problems. The resource substitution-theory claims that the health benefits of education are larger for women than for men. The sample consists of people aged 25 years and older in 20 European countries. Data from the seventh round of the European Social Survey was analyzed using multilevel logistic regression on preventable health problems (heart- or circulation problems, high blood pressure and diabetes) and less preventable health problems (allergies and problems related to a skin condition). The results show the association between socioeconomic position and preventable health problems is stronger than the association between socioeconomic position and less preventable health problems. After controlling for access to flexible resources, the association between socioeconomic position and health problems is weakened. People with better access to flexible resources have a lower probability of having preventable health problems than people with less flexible resources. Hence, the results suggest that the association between socioeconomic position and health may be partially explained by inequality in access to flexible resources. The association between education and preventable health problems was stronger for women than it was for men. These results imply that there might be gender differences in health inequality. The results also indicate that health financing can affect the degree of health inequality in a society.