The project

This project applies intersectionality theory to understand diverse inequalities in later life health and illness, especially chronic diseases, and factors across the life course that shape these inequalities. It is based at the University of Sheffield and funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.

Intersectionality is concerned with how different axes of inequality such as gender, ethnicity, age and socioeconomic position overlap and interact with each other. Each of us has a particular combination of attributes (a particular ‘social location’), such as for example an ethnic minority middle aged woman who lives in a socioeconomically deprived neighbourhood. These varied social locations represent different (though overlapping) locations in the social structure and different access to resources and power, different social identities, and different experiences of social discrimination (such as ageism, racism and sexism – the unfair treatment on the basis of social identity).

Chronic diseases entail huge personal and societal costs and pose a significant challenge for public health. Furthermore, they are key drivers of inequalities in later life health. In this project, we are particularly interested in the highly prevalent chronic diseases of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and obesity. We are analysing survey data from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, the UK Household Longitudinal Study and the UK Biobank to map out intersectional inequalities in biomarkers of these diseases, and understand the life course drivers of these inequalities.

By unpacking the complexity in later life health inequalities, we aim to influence the conversation around the potential for policies and interventions to be targeted and tailored to different population subgroups, and how wider upstream factors might have differential intersectional effects.

The project is generating new conceptual, methodological and empirical knowledge. For a list of project activities and outputs, please navigate the menus.

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