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Widening inequalities in self-rated health by material deprivation? A trend analysis between 2001 and 2011 in Germany


Background Research on inequalities in health has shown a strong association between the lack of standard of living (defined as material deprivation) and self-rated health (SRH). In this study, we sought to further examine this association in a trend analysis of relative and absolute inequalities in SRH as defined by material deprivation in Germany.

Methods Data were obtained from the German Socio-Economic Panel (GSOEP) between 2001 and 2011. Material deprivation was measured on the basis of 11 living standard items missing due to financial reasons. We used the relative index of inequality (RII) and slope index of inequality (SII) to measure inequalities in SRH by material deprivation, calculating pooled interval logistic regression with robust SEs. Stepwise models were estimated, including demographic and socioeconomic variables, to assess their inter-relation with inequalities in SRH by material deprivation.

Results The results showed a steady increase in poor SRH over the 10-year duration of the study. A quadratic (inverted U-shaped) trend was observed in material deprivation in the standards of living, which rose from 2001 to 2005, and then declined in 2011. A similar but non-significant trend was found in relative and absolute inequalities in SRH by material deprivation, which increased from 2001 to 2005 and then declined.

Conclusions Inequality in SRH by material deprivation was relatively stable; however, an observed quadratic trend coincided with active and passive labour market reforms in Germany in early 2005.


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