Work-Family Life Courses and Later-Life Health in the United Kingdom

Marco Tosi, University of Padua
Emily Grundy , University of Essex

Socio-economic inequalities in physical and mental health persist at older ages and previous studies have shown that partnership and parenthood histories are also associated with differentials in later life health. These domains of adult life interact, and both may be influenced by earlier life circumstances, indicating a need for a holistic approach to understanding life course influences on health at older ages. In this paper, we identify classes of life course types for a UK cohort born 1933-45 and investigate differences between the latent classes identified in physical and mental health, and changes in health over a five-year follow-up period. Data were drawn from Waves 1-5 (2009-2013) of the nationally representative UK Household Longitudinal Study (UKHLS). Multilevel models were used to analyse associations with summary indicators of physical and mental health measured using the SF-12, and changes in health, controlling for childhood circumstances and taking account of support from family and friends in later-life. Life courses characterised by lower socio-economic position, early parenthood and large family size were associated with worse physical and mental health in later life, with respondents who had combined a high socio-economic position and two children being the most advantaged. The study indicates that socio-economic disparities in later-life health vary depending on the way in which individuals combine work and family life.

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 Presented in Session 113. Life Course Influences on Physical and Mental Health