The adoption of certain behaviors—like smoking or physical activity—is recognized as a major factor affecting health. Analyzing the social determinants of these behaviors, then, should be considered an important goal, since it may improve our understanding of the more general phenomenon of health inequalities. In this paper we analyze the association between socioeconomic status (SES) and health-related behaviors among the Italian population aged 18–74 in 2004/2005. Using large-scale sample survey data and a Weberian lifestyle approach, we first identify an ordered multidimensional space of health-related behaviors, and partition this space into a meaningful set of discrete regions representing a fine-grained taxonomy of health lifestyles. Then, we use regression analysis to determine if, and to what extent, the identified lifestyles are associated with SES. Using level of education as an indicator of SES, we find that the propensity to adopt healthier lifestyles exhibits a positive educational gradient, whereas the probability of following less healthy lifestyles is inversely associated with the level of education. We conclude that, in general, focusing on health lifestyles—i.e., on combinations of multiple health-related behaviors—instead of single behaviors may lead to a better understanding of health-related practices and their relationship with socioeconomic status.
Quality & Quantity – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 1, 2013
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