Housing assets and the socio-economic determinants of health and disability in old age.

The influence of socio-economic determinants among the elderly is a complex subject. Although they rely on pension income, the wealth that they have accumulated over their lifetime (primarily housing assets), jointly with housing-related determinants, could have a more significant effect on health production. Hence, owning a house has more potential than income for reducing health inequalities. This study makes use of a representative cross-sectional database on the Spanish population aged 55 or over. Using a continuous variable to measure health and a measure of disabilities in old age, the study explores some socio-economic determinants of health and disability and provides a breakdown of inequalities in socio-economic status and in aggregate individual health. The study’s findings indicate that housing equity overrides the effect of income as a determinant of health and (absence of) disability in old age. Furthermore, housing assets account for more than 90% of socio-economic inequalities and 54% of inequalities in disability.