The author reviews the theory of socio-economic inequality in health and concludes that the use of cultural values to explain the ubiquitous association between the socio-economic standing (SES) of individuals and their health is becoming increasingly prominent. Inspired by this, the author examines whether and to what extent several aspects of lay knowledge about and attitudes towards health can explain the social gradient in subjective health in Central and Eastern Europe. The author uses data from the second round of the European Social Survey and limits the analysis to data from the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia. The data show that while there is a strong relationship between education and subjective health and also a relationship between education and various measures of lay knowledge about health, beliefs about health are only very weakly related to subjective health and thus fail to account for its dependence on SES. The author concludes that this may be the result of reciprocal causation between lay knowledge and subjective health. More enhanced research designs would be required in order to gain a better empirical evaluation of the causal relationships between SES, lay knowledge, and health.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.