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Health inequalities among the elderly
Older people have tended to be neglected in research on health inequalities compared with people in other stages of life. Similarly, there has been a lack of research on how class interacts with gender in later life. These omissions are difficult to understand since health needs and the use of health services are greater among older age groups. Moreover, with the improvements in living and working conditions, as well as quality of healthcare services, the proportion of elderly people has risen significantly and will continue to increase during the coming decades. By 2050, it is expected that 30% of Europeans will be aged >60 years and whereas the very old constitute 3% of the European population today, 11 of the former EU15 member states will have at least 10% of their population aged ⩾80 years by 2050.1
There is no consensus about the best measure of socioeconomic position (SEP) in older ages—for example, the use of indicators of SEP based on occupation among people who are no longer in the labour market has been questioned. On the other hand, in trying to identify the best measure of SEP among the elderly, the importance of using multiple indicators has been emphasised. The study of Hyde and Jones2 (see page 533) addresses this issue and overcomes some limitations of previous research. It examines a broad range of SEP measures, and also restricts the study population to retirees, therefore …
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