General Article Health and social class

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By Dr Laurence Knott


There has always been an association between health and social class and, despite the welfare state and the improvement in health in all sections of societies over the years, this discrepancy remains. It applies to all aspects of health, including expectation of life, infant and maternal mortality and general level of health. Whilst the failure to close the social gap is a disgrace to some, others would claim that so long as these parameters are improving in all levels of society there is no cause for concern. Despite 62 years of the National Health Service, there remain marked differences in all parameters of health across the social classes. Women continue to live longer than men but the gap is closing. Based on 2007-09 mortality rates, a man aged 65 could expect to live another 17.6 years and a woman aged 65 another 20.2 years.
Social class is a complex issue that may involve status, wealth, culture, background and employment. The relationship bet...

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