Life course socio economic position and later life health: a formal comparison of the chains of risk and critical period hypotheses

George B. Ploubidis, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM)
Benova Lenka, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM)
Emily Grundy, University of Cambridge
Bianca De Stavola, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM)

The relative contribution of early and mid or later life socio-economic position (SEP) to later life health is not fully understood and there are alternative hypotheses about the importance of direct versus indirect effects. We use data from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing to address this issue and to investigate alternative hypotheses about life course influences on biomarkers of later life health. We found that the effect of early life SEP reaches until the beginning of late old age, predicting physical health and fibrinogen levels at least 65 years later. However, a more complicated pattern of associations than what was implied by previous findings was observed. Cohort specific effects emerged, with current SEP dominating the effect on later life physical health and fibrinogen levels in participants under 65, while early life SEP had a more prominent role in explaining later life inequalities in physical health for men and women over 75. We extend previous findings on mid adulthood and early old age to old age and the beginnings of late old age. The complexity of our findings highlights the need for further research on the mechanism that underlies the association between SEP and later life health.

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Presented in Session 84: Mortality