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Did you know that your partner’s economic well-being matters for your health (especially, if you’re female)?

January 2019

Whereas a substantial literature suggests a socioeconomic gradient in health as well as gender inequalities in health, little is known yet about whether the effect of socioeconomic status on health differs by gender. A yet unpublished study by ISS researcher Dina Maskileyson and her colleague Philipp Lersch (HU Berlin & DIW Berlin) focuses on the intersection of economic inequality and gender in the production of health. The authors argue for a more systematic examination of the interaction between personal and household economic resources and gender in the social patterning of health within couples. Specifically, they ask how personal economic resources (i.e. income and wealth) and partners’ economic resources are associated with health for women and men in Germany.
An analysis of longitudinal data from three waves of the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) revealed that personal economic resources have a positive impact on health (and that the wealth effect is largely independent from income). Moreover, while partner’s wealth is equally important for both genders, partner’s income affects women’s health only. The results emphasize the importance of employing an integrated approach for the analysis of gendered health inequalities, simultaneously considering personal, partner’s, and household economic resources, in order to more fully understand the social determinants of health.