The Social, Cultural, and Economic Dimensions of Socioeconomic Status, and Investment in Health

Patrick M. Krueger, University of Colorado at Boulder

Socioeconomic status (SES) is a broad concept that includes cultural, social, and economic dimensions. I examine whether race/ethnic and sex differences in exercise, a significant behavioral investment in health, result from the various forms of cultural, social, and economic capital that comprise SES. Data from the 1998 and 2000 waves of the Health and Retirement Study, a nationally representative sample of U.S. adults aged 51 and older, allows me to examine SES related changes in regular vigorous physical activity over a two year period. Although the cultural, social, and economic dimensions all predict future activity status, only differences in cultural and economic capital account for race/ethnic disparities in exercise. Further, even after controlling for the full array of socioeconomic factors, sex disparities in exercise persist. Future work that seeks to explain race/ethnic disparities in health must account for the diverse aspects of SES that shape health outcomes.

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Presented in Session 137: Health Behaviors