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date: 25 February 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Understanding causal pathways that explain socioeconomic-related health disparities is a long-standing challenge in health research. This chapter reviews research on links between socioeconomic status, ecology, and health, focusing on psychosocial factors that may influence these associations. The Socioeconomic Gradient Bow-Tie Model is introduced to connect socioeconomic status (SES) and SES-related physical and social environments to health. The activity of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis is highlighted as a key biological pathway through which psychosocial factors may influence the links between SES and health; these ideas are illustrated with findings from the Midlife in the United States study. Attention is given to those findings that showcase psychosocial factors that may help low-SES individuals “escape” the biological risks associated with socioeconomic disadvantage. The chapter concludes with a discussion of future research directions on the link between SES and health-related biology beyond the activity of the HPA axis.

Keywords: health, socioeconomic status, ecology, psychosocial factors, Socioeconomic Gradient Bow-Tie Model, hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, biological risks, health-related biology

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