Does Lower Subjective Social Status Yield Riskier Biomarker Profiles?

Omer Gersten, Academia Sinica
Tom Boyce, University of British Columbia
Paola Timiras, University of California, Berkeley

Both objective and, more recently, subjective measures of low standing have been linked to poor health outcomes. It is unclear, however, through which precise physiological mechanisms such standing may influence health. One possible mechanism is that those of lower status experience more frequent and severe stressors than their higher status counterparts. Such differential exposure, when experienced over extended periods of time, could engender biomarker profiles that are more dysregulated (and hence pose greater risk for poor health) in lower status individuals. Using a nationally representative survey conducted in Taiwan, we investigate whether lower subjective standing (both in terms of socioeconomic status in Taiwan and status in the community) is associated with riskier neuroendocrine biomarker profiles. With the exception of the biomarker DHEAS, we find that there is little evidence that links low status to riskier profiles, a finding which is congruent with much of the literature on this topic.

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Presented in Session 11: Explanations for SES Gradients in Adult Health/Mortality