The relative income hypothesis predicts poorer health in societies with greater income inequality, yet the psychological mechanisms that explain this association are not clear to date. This study tests the hypothesis that perceived age discrimination acts as a mediator in the inequality-health nexus for people who categorize themselves as old. It is expected that the detrimental mediating effect of perceived age discrimination does not occur for those who categorize themselves as young, since their low status is only temporary until they move to the higher status middle-aged group. A cross-sectional multilevel analysis of the 2008/09 European Social Survey (ESS, Round 4) was conducted. A subsample of respondents who perceive themselves as belonging to the old (N = 10,650) or young age group (N = 15,635) was analysed. The Gini coefficient was used to represent national inequalities in income in each of the 28 ESS countries. Mediation analyses within the multilevel structural equation modelling paradigm indicate that perceived age discrimination fully mediates the associations between income inequality and self-rated health for people who categorize themselves as old, but not as young. Our findings illustrate the importance of the socio-economic context as well as the permeability of group boundaries in the area of perceived discrimination and well-being.
Vauclair, C.-M., Marques, S., Lima, M. L., Abrams, D., Swift, H., & Bratt, C. (2016). How does income inequality get under the skin? The mediating role of perceived age discrimination in the inequality- health nexus for older and younger people. In C. Roland-Lévy, P. Denoux, B. Voyer, P. Boski, & W. K. Gabrenya Jr. (Eds.), Unity, diversity and culture. Proceedings from the 22nd Congress of the International Association for Cross-Cultural Psychology. https://scholarworks.gvsu.edu/iaccp_papers/216