Social Situation on Health


Health can be influenced by a number of factors such as personal behaviors, genes, the environment in which people live, and the access to excellent healthcare (Burkert et al., 2013). Also, many studies have shown the relationship between socio-economic class and social situation on health. Robust evidence of the links of social variables such as socio-economic class and social status has existed since official record-keeping began. Over recent years, an increasing number of research studies have examined the factors that impact health, with particular emphasis on the socio-economic class and social situation. Such research studies also have considered the environment in which people live. The impact of the socio-economic and social status on health has now been researched widely. Thus, the influence of socio-economic class and social situation is examined in this essay to demonstrate how they affect one's health. These factors result in disparities in the levels of health. This essay will provide a better understanding of how socio-economic class and social situation affects health through health outcomes and how they aggravate the problems of social inequalities in healthcare. The relationship between health and class will be critically discussed.


Socio-economic class is the economic position people occupy in the society, and the higher the class, the more status, power and influence one has in the society (Swain, 2017). Socio-economic class is often measured as a combination of education level, income, and occupation. On the other hand, social situation is one's standing compared to others in the society (Swain, 2017).

An association between socio-economic status and health has been recognized for many years (Swain, 2017). Many societies have continued to have socio-economic differences resulting in differences in the quality of healthcare people receive. In social sciences, the socio-economic class is measured in terms of educational attainment, occupational status, and income (Burkert et al., 2013). These indicators of socioeconomic status can influence health in combination or separately. Although these measures of socio-economic status are relatively correlated, each of the measures indicate unique characteristics of social situation. Further, these measures of socio-economic status are related to health in ways that are distinctive.

The level of education is normally examined by the credentials obtained and the number of years of schooling completed. Although the quality of education may also influence health, assessing how it affects health is often problematic (Zimmerman & Woolf, 2014). Education has been linked to health outcomes such as morbidity, mortality, functional limitations, and healthy behaviors (Zimmerman & Woolf, 2014). According to Zimmerman & Woolf (2014), infants born to mothers with many years of education are less likely to die before their first birthday compared to infants whose mothers have few years of education. The association between health and education does not necessarily imply causation. According to Janke et al., (2018), the effect of causation may be reflected partly by the level of education. Nonetheless, education influences health. For instance, the passage of compulsory education legislation in different countries suggests that higher education levels are related to better health (Janke et al., 2018).
Also, many ways in which high level of education improves the outcomes of health have been put forward. These links include skillsets and knowledge that lead to healthy living. The adoption of behaviors that are healthy, knowledge about health, and the capability to easily maneuver the healthcare system are some of the skills that can improve health. However, it is not clear which of the causal links directly influence health. They all contribute to the level of

education being associated with the status one’s of health. Also, many risk factors for chronic illnesses are more prevalent among people who are less educated than people who are better educated (Janke et al., 2018). The existence of social inequalities in health in the UK has been evident for over 150 years (Benzeval et al., 2014). It is easy to see the impact of low income on health through poor sanitation, housing, hazardous jobs, and inadequate diets. However, the association between health and income has become complicated as there are complex chains of pathways and exposures between health and income across one's life. For instance, employment as a source of income in adulthood is influenced by education, which is in turn affected by health in childhood and situations that are influenced by the wealth and income of parents. It implies that the link between health and income level is bi-directional and generational. For example, the income of parents influences the health of children and children's health influence their income in adulthood. Although the relationship between income and health is
complex, it is clear that people need money to buy the necessities for health such as food, warmth, and shelter. Income also enables people to avoid living in environments that are potentially harmful like living in neighborhoods that are poor, polluted or noisy. Therefore, a basic income level is required for good health, and the more money one has, the better his or her health. Also, many negative health behaviors are common among people who are in disadvantaged social situations. First, most healthy behaviors are expensive, for instance, a healthy diet is more costly than one that is unhealthy, and participating in extra school activities, or joining a gym can be expensive (Swain, 2017). Second, one may use unhealthy activities such as drinking and smoking to cope with stressful situations. Evidence suggests that difficulties of

dealing with poverty make people more inclined to discount the future heavily, implying that people who earn low income are hardly concerned about the detrimental long term effects of behaviors such as smoking or drinking. This is because the unhealthy behaviors may bring pleasure and lower their stress levels. Additionally, unhealthy behaviors may be more socially acceptable to people with low income as they hardly adopt messages that aim at promoting health (Zimmerman & Woolf, 2014).
The third element that indicates socioeconomic status is one’s occupatio. Occupational status indicates the authority, prestige, and power one has in the labor market (Ravesteijn et al., 2013). According to Ravesteijn et al., (2013), occupational status has more influence on the access to economic resources than income. They add that health is unequally distributed by occupation. People who are ranked lower on the status of occupation report worse state of health, have a higher probability of being disabled and die younger than people who are higher up the hierarchy of occupation (Burkert et al., 2013). Mortality and health are distributed unequally by occupation status. For example, in the UK, people in the highest occupational status have lower rates of mortality than people in the lower occupational state (Burkert et al., 2013). Health also differs among people in different occupations. In the US, people in manual occupations report lower health status than people who are in professional occupations, and their health rapidly declines as they grow older (Ravesteijn et al., 2013). Similarly, among workers in the Netherlands, health differences across non-manual and manual workers widen until they retire and worsen after that (Ravesteijn et al., 2013). This evidence suggests that occupations that require lower-skilled workers exert a high health toll and contribute to health inequalities by socioeconomic status.

In conclusion, the notion that all people need to do to be healthy is to behave in ways that are healthy and get access to health care is incorrect. While it is vital to access quality health care and engage in healthy behaviors, probably more critical are the socio-economic and social factors that influence health. Social epidemiology has been discussed against the factors that affect socio-economic class and social status to achieve the objectives stated in the first paragraph. As shown in this essay, social status and socio-economic factors are strongly related to health outcomes than clinical care or healthy behaviors. Additionally, socio-economic and social status seems to be crucial to the extent to which some groups or communities experience health inequities. Social factors that influence health are essential because they interact with other health aspects by affecting people's access to health care, their ability to engage in healthy behaviors, and the safety of the environments in which they work and live. Therefore, policies that aim at reducing health inequities and improving health should address the economic and social conditions that strongly influence health.

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  • Benzeval, M. et al., 2014. How does money influence health, London: Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
  • Burkert, N. T. et al., 2013. The Influence of Socioeconomic Factors on Health Parameters in Overweight and Obese Adults. International Journal of Social sciences, IV(7), pp. 87-112.
  • Janke, K., Johnston, D. W., Propper, C. & Shields, M. A., 2018. The Causal Effect of Education on Chronic Health Conditions. London: Institute of Labor Economics.
  • Ravesteijn, B., Kippersluis, H. v. & Doorslaer, E. v., 2013. The contribution of occupation to health inequality. International Journal of Medicine and Health, IV(11), pp. 45-89.
  • Swain, G. R., 2017. How does economic and social disadvantage affect health?. Institute for Research on Poverty, XXXIII(1), pp. 29-45.
  • Zimmerman, E. & Woolf, S. H., 2014. Understanding the Relationship Between Education and Health. Journal of Medical Sciences, III(3), pp. 45-86.

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