Journal Article

Inequalities in maintenance of health and performance between young adult women and men in higher education

Jesper Löve, Lotta Dellve, Mats Eklöf and Mats Hagberg

in The European Journal of Public Health

Published on behalf of European Journal of Public Health

Volume 19, issue 2, pages 168-174
Published in print April 2009 | ISSN: 1101-1262
Published online January 2009 | e-ISSN: 1464-360X | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/eurpub/ckn131
Inequalities in maintenance of health and performance between young adult women and men in higher education

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  • Public Health and Epidemiology
  • Economics of Health
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Background: Because of ageing populations, most high-income countries are facing an imminent scarcity of labour. Maintenance of health and performance in young adults therefore becomes a crucial prerequisite for sustainable societies. One major obstruction to this accomplishment is the striking health inequalities between young women and young men. Previously these inequalities have mainly been studied in a cross-sectional way, focusing on ill-health. In this study, we compared the prevalence of maintained health and performance between young adult women and men and the predictors for this outcome. Methods: The cohort consisted of 1266 participants from a homogenous sample of university students in Sweden. A combined assessment of self-rated ‘very good’ health and un-impaired performance took place at three time points (i.e. maintained health and performance). Potential predictors covered stable conditions in health-related behaviours, conditions at work/school and work-home interference. Results: Young women had less maintained health and performance than young men. No major differences in predictors were found. However, there was a tendency for psychosocial factors to be the most important predictors, especially in women. Conclusions: That young women had less maintained health and performance in a homogenous sample beyond well-known differentiating factors suggests explanations other than observable structural differences between the sexes. This was also indicated by the importance attached to perceived demands, and work-home interference, especially in women. The combination of less scheduled, and more unscheduled, schoolwork (i.e. time-flexibility) negatively affected the maintenance of health and performance in our study population, suggesting a focus for future studies.

Keywords: gender; health inequalities; performance; positive health; well-being

Journal Article.  5162 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology ; Economics of Health ; Health, Illness, and Medicine

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