Despite a large and growing research literature documenting health disparities by socio-economic status (SES) and income inequalities, research on how these relationships play out moving from mid to later life is meager. Even less is known about how the early Baby Boom cohort compares with the Pre-Boomer cohort as they age in a period of accelerating inequalities, where the wealthy are becoming wealthier and the incomes of those in the middle and at the bottom are stagnating. In this paper, we follow individuals in two cohorts, those born 1947-1951 and those born 1932-36 over the period covering eight cycles of the National Population Health Survey in Canada from 1994/95 to 2008/09 with longitudinal data. The Early Boomer cohort is age 43- 47 in the first period, and 59-64 in 2008/09; the Pre-Boomer cohort is 58-62 in period 1 and 74-79 by 2008/09. We focus on the differences between the two cohorts in terms of self-reported health in a period characterized by dramatic welfare state restructuring, socio-demographic and family shifts, and global economic change. We ask whether health disparities are widening by SES, whether growing income inequalities matter to health in moving from mid to later life, and what implications there might be for Canada’s aging population in future. Our findings reveal that socio-economic factors matter as determinants of health for both cohorts but more so for the Early Boomers than for the Pre-Boomers. Growing income inequalities may have serious and direct negative implications for cohorts transitioning in future from mid to later life.

Bibliographic Note

Published in French: McDaniel, Susan A., Amber Gazso, Hugh McCague, and Ryan Barnhart. 2013.“Les disparités en matière de santé au fil du vieillissement: une comparaison du parcours de vie des premiers baby-boomers et des pré-baby-boomers au Canada”. Sociologie et Societies, XLV(1): 43-65.