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Income and housing satisfaction and their association with self-rated health in different life stages. A fixed effects analysis using a German panel study

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Anja Knöchelmann, Nico Seifert, Sebastian Günther, Irene Moor, Matthias Richter

In: BMJ Open 10 (2020), 6, e034294


Objective: We aim to investigate the effect of income and housing satisfaction on self-rated health in different life stages. Design: A population-based panel study (German Socio-Economic Panel). Participants: The final sample consisted of 384 280 observations from 50 004 persons covering the period between 1994 and 2016. Outcome measures: Average marginal effects were calculated based on fixed effects regressions to obtain the effect of changes in income and housing satisfaction on changes in self-rated health for each year of age. Self-rated health was assessed on a 5-point scale, with higher values indicating better health. Results: Changes in income and housing satisfaction showed a small association with changes in self-rated health. The association was stronger for income, where it also varied considerably in different life stages. The average marginal effects for income satisfaction varied between 0.02 and 0.05 in men and 0.02 and 0.04 in women and peaked between the ages of 55–60. For housing satisfaction, average marginal effects ranged from 0.02 to 0.04 (men) and from 0.02 to 0.03 (women). Conclusion: Higher satisfaction with housing and income was associated with better self-rated health. Therefore, studies on the social determinants of health should not only focus on objective material conditions but also on how individuals perceive and evaluate their situation.