INTRODUCTIONEpidemiological studies have shown that the relationship between socioeconomic status (SES) and health is not simply a threshold effect, but a graded association. It is generally thought that people of higher SES enjoy longer, healthier, and happier lives than those of lower SES (Adler et al., ; Deaton, ; Link & Phelan, ). This relationship is detailed in the fundamental cause theory (FCT). The theory deems SES a “fundamental” cause of health inequalities as the association between SES and health persists regardless of changing mediators and is relevant for virtually all health outcomes (Link & Phelan, ). SES facilitates or inhibits access to a wide range of flexible resources, such as money, knowledge, prestige, power, and social connections that protect health even when the profile of risk factors and diseases change over time (Link & Phelan, ). Thus, the theory stresses the importance of broader social and environmental contexts related to SES rather than intervening proximal individual‐level risks to reduce socioeconomic inequalities in health (Freese & Lutfey, ).Recent studies testing the FCT generally confirmed the premise yet also uncovered a peculiar challenge to its tenets (Masters, Link, & Phelan, ; Polonijo & Carpiano, ). Many studies find that SES
American Journal of Human Biology – Wiley
Published: Jan 1, 2018
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