Relationship between socioeconomic status and health in Australia

Essay by sydneyboy_2000University, Bachelor'sA, May 2006

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In reporting to the NSW Minister of Health on "the relationship between socioeconomic status & health", a number of issues and variables need to be examined. These include:

the health inequalities of all Australians

migrant health

class and health

gender and health

aboriginality and health

older age and health

effect of politics and policy

ways of reducing the difference in health

For the purposes of this study, I will examine how the relationship between socioeconomic status and health impacts on the Australian health context. I will also examine how this issue relates to politics and policy, and analyse strategies for improving this situation.


Studies have consistently found that there are overwhelming inequalities in the health of Australians. Some of the socioeconomic groups at greatest disadvantage are migrants, those of lower class, males, aboriginals, and the elderly. Generally disadvantaged socioeconomic groups are found to:

* have the poorest health

* be the highest users of primary and secondary health services (because they are sicker), but the lowest users of preventative services

Studies such as the (National Health Strategy 1992:13-14), have found that:

* low levels of economic resources and little social support affect health adversely

* behavioural risks most prevalent in disadvantaged groups explain some of the health differentials

* the decline in socioeconomic status experienced by some people as a result of ill health helps explain the link between socioeconomic status and health

* those of low socioeconomic status make less use of preventative and screening services, which may relate to issues of access and lack of economic resources

* lack of access to health care, particularly preventative health care, may also partly explain the link between socioeconomic status and health

* policies to reduce inequalities in health status should consider a social view of health emphasizing change...