- Pamela Herd, Robert F. Schoeni, and James S. House
- Fall/Winter (2016–2017) 2016
- Link to foc331b (PDF)
- Link to foc331sup (PDF)
A 1982 report found that over a quarter century of universal health care in the United Kingdom had done little to reduce socioeconomic health disparities. This report inspired decades of research documenting a strong relationship between socioeconomic status and health. This research has given rise to the fundamental cause theory, which posits that socioeconomic status is a fundamental cause of health differences. This theory suggests that policy solutions aimed at ameliorating health disparities should be focused on changes in social and economic policies as much or more than on factors such as health care and behavioral changes. The study described in this article tests the fundamental cause theory by looking at the health effects on single elderly individuals of one particular income support policy in the United States, the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, which is intended, in part, to raise the incomes of the poorest elderly Americans (age 65 and older).