Social conditions as fundamental causes of disease - a test of the theory

David Pevalin, University of Essex

[Project number 30098]

This project proposes to empirically test Link and Phelan's theory (1995) of social conditions being fundamental causes of disease. The main premise behind the analysis is that for avoidable diseases, or diseases amenable to medical intervention, there will be marked differences by indicators of social inequality such as social class, education and income. Whereas for diseases that are not avoidable, untreatable or incurable there will be little difference across indicators of social inequality.

The data from the LS will provide rich material to test this theory as individuals have a follow up period of 33 years for death registration data and information on social class and education are available from the 1971 Census data. In addition, the time span may enable investigation of emerging causes of death.