Relative Social Status in Context: Is Perceived or Actual Status More Important for Young Adult Health?

Karen Gerken, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Previous literature has repeatedly confirmed the existence of a gradient in health along socioeconomic lines, but whether this relationship is driven by material resources or psychosocial processes is up for debate. This paper explores the interplay between absolute and relative socioeconomic status and how they relate to objective biomarkers in young adulthood using the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health). Three types of SES are examined: actual objective SES, perceived relative SES and actual relative SES. Preliminary evidence suggests that while somewhat correlated, each operationalization of SES is related differently to health outcomes in young adulthood. Further analysis will examine over- and under- estimations of SES and whether they hurt or harm health.

  See extended abstract

Presented in Session 148: Neighborhood and Contextual Influences on Health