Place and personal circumstances in a multilevel account of women's long-term illness.


This paper investigates geographical variations in women's reports of limiting long-term illness in terms of individual inequalities and the contribution of area characteristics among wards and county districts. We use multilevel modelling of linked census data from the Office for National Statistics Longitudinal Study for England and Wales. We follow a random sample of 76.374 women aged between 16 and 45 at the time of the 1971 Census for 20 years to observe their reported limiting long-term illness (LLTI) at the 1991 Census. Car and home ownership were useful markers of social and material advantage, apparently protecting against the risk of reporting LLTI. Migration into the South-East region appeared beneficial, but otherwise there was little difference between those who moved home and those who did not. Differences between county districts persist after adjustment for individual circumstances (education and ethnicity), but almost all of these differences are explained by the social profile of wards in these areas. Geographical differences in LLTI are not, therefore, entirely explained by the distribution of individual characteristics: a woman with the same history may face a different risk of illness in different kinds of area. For women, the social composition of the locality (using the ward as a proxy) is more relevant than the broader economic and industrial classification of the surrounding county district, which is more important for health inequalities among men.

R.D. Wiggins, H. Joshi, , S.Gleave, K.Lynch, A.Cullis | 2002
In: Social science & medicine , ISSN 0277-9536 | 54 | 5 | Mar | 827-838
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