TABLE 4-1 Median Household Wealth and Self-Reported Health Status

 

Wealth (in thousands)a

Age Group and 1984 Health Status

1984

1989

1994

All Households

Excellent

68.3

99.3

127.9

Very good

66.3

81.9

90.9

Good

51.8

59.6

64.9

Fair/poor

39.2

36.0

34.7

25-34

Excellent

28.5

51.5

84.3

Very good

19.5

34.7

50.1

Good

10.5

17.2

28.2

Fair/poor

0.9

3.1

10.4

35-44

Excellent

100.1

150.1

194.7

Very good

81.1

96.3

117.5

Good

49.5

45.3

83.5

Fair/poor

23.8

15.5

32.4

45-54

Excellent

164.2

198.3

255.8

Very good

132.1

176.2

186.9

Good

87.8

76.9

97.1

Fair/poor

59.7

61.6

69.4

aIn 1996 dollars.

SOURCE: Data from Panel Study of Income Dynamics, as reported by Smith (1999: Table 1, p. 147).

effects on health. The key question is not which of the two alternative pathways can be dismissed entirely. Rather, the more appropriate question may be which subset of the well-documented associations between socioeconomic status and health is most susceptible to interpretations that flow from health to status.

STATUS, RACE, AND ETHNICITY

The health gradient by socioeconomic status is important for racial and ethnic differences because socioeconomic status differs considerably by race and ethnicity. Table 4-2 shows some variations in socioeconomic status among older people. Older black and Hispanics are much less likely than whites to have a high school diploma or a college degree and much more likely to live in poverty. Older Asians have relatively more education, but compared with whites, twice the percentage of them live in poverty. Similar figures for American Indians and Alaska Natives are not available, but



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