J Epidemiol Community Health 60:156-161 doi:10.1136/jech.2005.037655
  • Research report

Country material distribution and adolescents’ perceived health: multilevel study of adolescents in 27 countries

  1. Torbjorn Torsheim1,
  2. Candace Currie2,
  3. Will Boyce3,
  4. Oddrun Samdal1
  1. 1University of Bergen, Department Education and Health Promotion, Norway
  2. 2Child and Adolescent Health Research Unit (CAHRU), The Moray House School of Education, University of Edinburgh, Scotland
  3. 3Social Program Evaluation Group, McArthur Hall, Queen’s University, Canada
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr T Torsheim
 University of Bergen, Department Education and Health Promotion, Christiesgt 13, N-5015, Bergen, Norway; torbjoern.torsheim{at}
  • Accepted 3 October 2005


Objective: To assess the impact of country material distribution on adolescents’ perceptions of health.

Design: Cross sectional multilevel study.

Setting: Data were collected from the school based health behaviour in school aged children: WHO cross national study 1997/98, which includes students from 27 European and North American countries.

Participants: 12 0381 students in year 6, 8, and 10 who were attending school classes on the day of data collection.

Main result: Adolescents in countries with a high dispersion of family affluence were more likely to have self rated poor health even after controlling for individual family level of affluence and family social resources.

Conclusion: There are substantial inequalities in subjective health across European and North American countries related to the distribution of family material resources in these countries.


  • Funding: none.

  • Competing interests: none declared.