Recent PhD Jonathan Koltai and Professor Scott Schieman on Stress Exposure and the SES Health Gradient

May 20, 2018 by Nico Golinski

PhD Candidate Jonathan Koltai and Professor Scott Schieman published an article in Social Science Research arguing that there are "pockets of complexity" in the inverse association between socioeconomic status and health. The article outlines particular factors that add nuance to conventional understandings of the SES-health gradient.

Jonathan Koltai received his PhD in Sociology from the University of Toronto in 2018. He is currently a postdoctoral  Researcher in Social Epidemiology at Bocconi University. The research for his dissertation examines organizational contexts of inter-role conflict and worker well-being. Scott Schieman is a Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto. His research focuses on the impact of work and religion on health.

We have posted the citation and the abstract of the article below. The full text is available through the University of Toronto Library Portal here.

Schieman, Scott and Jonathan Koltai. 2017. "Discovering Pockets of Complexity: Socioeconomic Status, Stress Exposure, and the Nuances of the Health Gradient." Social Science Research 63:1-18.

One of the most pervasive statements about stratification and health identifies the strong inverse relationship—or gradient—between socioeconomic status (SES) and poor health. We elaborate on the ways that the SES-based gradient in stress exposure contributes to nuances in the SES-health association. In analyses of the 2008 National Study of the Changing Workforce, we find some evidence that the inverse association between SES and health outcomes is finely graded—but several ‘pockets of complexity’ emerge. First, education and income have different associations with health and well-being. Second, those associations depend on the outcome being assessed. Education is more influential for predicting anxiety and poor health than for depression or life dissatisfaction, while income is more influential for predicting depression and, to a lesser extent, life dissatisfaction. Third, different patterns of explanation or suppression reflect resource advantage or stress of higher status dynamics. Some impactful stressors that people encounter—especially job pressure and work-family conflict—are not neatly graded in ways that corroborate the conventional SES-health narrative. Instead, these mask the size of the overall health differences between lower versus higher SES groups. Our mapping of the SES gradient in stressors extends that story and complicates the conventional view of the association between SES and health/well-being.

Read the full article here.