Socioeconomic inequalities in mental health in Australia: Explaining life shock exposure

Hashmi, Rubayyat ORCID: and Alam, Khorshed ORCID: and Gow, Jeff (2020) Socioeconomic inequalities in mental health in Australia: Explaining life shock exposure. Health Policy, 124 (1). pp. 97-105. ISSN 0168-8510

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Background: Recent research suggests that there exists a strong link between life shocks and mental health. However, research on the distributional aspects of these shocks on mental health status is limited.In the health inequality literature no Australian studies have examined this relationship.
Objective: This study examines the distributional impact of life shocks (negative life events and financial hardships) on mental health inequality among different socioeconomic groups in a longitudinal setting in Australia.Methods: This study analysed the data of 13,496 individuals from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey, waves 12–17 (2012–2017). Using concentration index and Blinder-Oaxaca approaches, the study decomposed socioeconomic inequalities in mental health and changes inequalities in mental health over the study period. The study used frailty indices to capture the severity of life shocks experienced by an individual.Results: The results suggest that exposure to just one life shock will result in a greater risk of mental disorder in the most disadvantaged socioeconomic groups. The results also indicate that 24.7%–40.5%of pro-rich socioeconomic mental health inequality are due to life shocks. Financial hardship shocks contributes to 21.6%–35.4% of inequality compared with 2.3%–5.4% inequality generated by negative life event shocks across waves.Conclusions: Lower SES groups experience more life shocks than higher SES groups and in turn generate higher socioeconomic mental health inequality. Policies aimed at reducing socioeconomic inequality in mental health should account for these shocks when designing interventions.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Commerce (1 Jul 2013 - 17 Jan 2021)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Institute for Resilient Regions - Centre for Health, Informatics and Economic Research (1 Aug 2018 - 31 Mar 2020)
Date Deposited: 30 Jan 2020 04:03
Last Modified: 26 Oct 2020 22:05
Uncontrolled Keywords: negative life events; financial hardships; socioeconomic inequality; mental health; Australia
Fields of Research (2008): 14 Economics > 1402 Applied Economics > 140208 Health Economics
14 Economics > 1403 Econometrics > 140304 Panel Data Analysis
11 Medical and Health Sciences > 1117 Public Health and Health Services > 111714 Mental Health
Fields of Research (2020): 38 ECONOMICS > 3801 Applied economics > 380108 Health economics
38 ECONOMICS > 3802 Econometrics > 380204 Panel data analysis
42 HEALTH SCIENCES > 4203 Health services and systems > 420313 Mental health services
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): C Society > 92 Health > 9204 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) > 920410 Mental Health
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