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Concept: British Household Panel Survey

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Does increasing incomes improve health? In 1999, the UK government implemented minimum wage legislation, increasing hourly wages to at least £3.60. This policy experiment created intervention and control groups that can be used to assess the effects of increasing wages on health. Longitudinal data were taken from the British Household Panel Survey. We compared the health effects of higher wages on recipients of the minimum wage with otherwise similar persons who were likely unaffected because (1) their wages were between 100 and 110% of the eligibility threshold or (2) their firms did not increase wages to meet the threshold. We assessed the probability of mental ill health using the 12-item General Health Questionnaire. We also assessed changes in smoking, blood pressure, as well as hearing ability (control condition). The intervention group, whose wages rose above the minimum wage, experienced lower probability of mental ill health compared with both control group 1 and control group 2. This improvement represents 0.37 of a standard deviation, comparable with the effect of antidepressants (0.39 of a standard deviation) on depressive symptoms. The intervention group experienced no change in blood pressure, hearing ability, or smoking. Increasing wages significantly improves mental health by reducing financial strain in low-wage workers. © 2016 The Authors. Health Economics published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Concepts: Controlling for a variable, Scientific control, Longitudinal study, Economics, Employment, Minimum wage, British Household Panel Survey, Wage

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Despite growing evidence of public health benefits from urban green space there has been little longitudinal analysis. This study used panel data to explore three different hypotheses about how moving to greener or less green areas may affect mental health over time. The samples were participants in the British Household Panel Survey with mental health data (General Health Questionnaire scores) for five consecutive years, and who relocated to a different residential area between the second and third years (n = 1064; observations = 5,320). Fixed-effects analyses controlled for time-invariant individual level heterogeneity and other area and individual level effects. Compared to pre-move mental health scores, individuals who moved to greener areas (n=594) had significantly better mental health in all three post-move years (P=.015; P=.016; P=.008), supporting a ‘shifting baseline’ hypothesis. Individuals who moved to less green areas (n=470) showed significantly worse mental health in the year preceding the move (P=.031) but returned to baseline in the post-move years. Moving to greener urban areas was associated with sustained mental health improvements, suggesting that environmental policies to increase urban green space may have sustainable public health benefits.

Concepts: Health care, Scientific method, Health economics, Observation, Hypothesis, Panel data, British Household Panel Survey, Panel Study of Income Dynamics

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Previous research shows that generalized trust, the belief that most people can be trusted, is conducive to people’s health. However, only recently have longitudinal studies suggested an additional reciprocal pathway from health back to trust. Drawing on a diverse body of literature that shows how egalitarian social policy contributes to the promotion of generalized trust, we hypothesize that this other ‘reverse’ pathway could be sensitive to health insurance context. Drawing on nationally representative US panel data from the General Social Survey, we examine whether the Affordable Care Act of 2010 could have had influence on the deteriorating impact of worsening self-rated health (SRH) on generalized trust. Firstly, using two-wave panel data (2008-2010, N = 1403) and employing random effects regression models, we show that a lack of health insurance coverage negatively determines generalized trust in the United States. However, this association is attenuated when additionally controlling for (perceived) income inequality. Secondly, utilizing data from two separate three-wave panel studies from the US General Social Survey (2006-10; N = 1652; 2010-2014; N = 1187), we employ fixed-effects linear regression analyses to control for unobserved heterogeneity from time-invariant factors. We demonstrate that worsening SRH was a stronger predictor for a decrease in generalized trust prior (2006-2010) to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Further, the negative effect of fair/poor SRH seen in the 2006-2010 data becomes attenuated in the 2010-2014 panel data. We thus find evidence for a substantial weakening of the previously established negative impact of decreasing SRH on generalized trust, coinciding with the most significant US healthcare reforms in decades. Social policy and healthcare policy implications are discussed.

Concepts: Health care, Regression analysis, Linear regression, Longitudinal study, Econometrics, Sociology, Panel data, British Household Panel Survey

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The goal of this study was to investigate whether exposure to sexual reality television content and Internet pornography (IP) is related to sexual self-presentation on social media. Based on a two-wave panel survey among 1,765 adolescents aged 13-17 years, we found that watching sexual reality television content stimulated adolescents to produce and distribute sexual images of themselves on social media. In turn, sexual self-presentation on social media led adolescents to watch sexual reality television content more frequently. These relationships were similar among boys and girls. No reciprocal relationship between exposure to IP and boys' and girls' sexual self-presentation on social media was found. The results suggest that sexual content in mainstream mass media may predict adolescents' sexually oriented behavior on social media and vice versa. Moreover, adolescents seem to differentiate between types of sexual content (i.e., mainstream versus more explicit sexual content) when incorporating sexual media content in their sexual behavior online.

Concepts: Sexual intercourse, Sociology, Human sexual behavior, Media, Mass media, Television, British Household Panel Survey, Mainstream

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Personality may influence the risk of death, but the evidence remains inconsistent. We examined associations between personality traits of the five-factor model (extraversion, neuroticism, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and openness to experience) and the risk of death from all causes through individual-participant meta-analysis of 76,150 participants from 7 cohorts (the British Household Panel Survey, 2006-2009; the German Socio-Economic Panel Study, 2005-2010; the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia Survey, 2006-2010; the US Health and Retirement Study, 2006-2010; the Midlife in the United States Study, 1995-2004; and the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study’s graduate and sibling samples, 1993-2009). During 444,770 person-years at risk, 3,947 participants (54.4% women) died (mean age at baseline = 50.9 years; mean follow-up = 5.9 years). Only low conscientiousness-reflecting low persistence, poor self-control, and lack of long-term planning-was associated with elevated mortality risk when taking into account age, sex, ethnicity/nationality, and all 5 personality traits. Individuals in the lowest tertile of conscientiousness had a 1.4 times higher risk of death (hazard ratio = 1.37, 95% confidence interval: 1.18, 1.58) compared with individuals in the top 2 tertiles. This association remained after further adjustment for health behaviors, marital status, and education. In conclusion, of the higher-order personality traits measured by the five-factor model, only conscientiousness appears to be related to mortality risk across populations.

Concepts: Longitudinal study, Epidemiology, Death, Big Five personality traits, Trait theory, Panel data, British Household Panel Survey, Panel Study of Income Dynamics

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Well-being development at the end of life is often characterized by steep deteriorations, but individual differences in these terminal declines are substantial and not yet well understood. This study moved beyond typical consideration of health predictors and explored the role of social orientation and engagement. To do so, we used social variables at the behavioral level (self-ratings of social participation) and the motivational level (valuing social and family goals), assessed 2 to 4 years before death. We applied single- and multiphase growth models to up to 27-year annual longitudinal data from 2,910 now deceased participants of the nation-wide German Socio-Economic Panel Study (Mage at death = 74 years; SD = 14; 48% women). Results revealed that leading a socially active life and prioritizing social goals in late life were independently associated with higher late-life well-being, less pronounced late-life decline, and a later onset of terminal decline. Significant interaction effects suggested that the combination of (reduced) social participation and (lowered) social goals magnifies the effects of each other. Findings also indicated that less decline in social participation was associated with less severe rates and a later onset of well-being decline. We found little evidence that valuing family goals is associated with late-life trajectories of well-being. Associations were independent of key correlates of well-being and mortality, including age at death, gender, education, disability, hospital stays, and goals in other life domains. We discuss possible pathways by which maintaining social orientation into late life may help mitigate terminal decline in well-being. (PsycINFO Database Record

Concepts: Cohort study, Longitudinal study, Death, Life, Sociology, Panel data, British Household Panel Survey, German Socio-Economic Panel

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To investigate the longitudinal patterns (stability and change) of problematic computer game use and its interdependencies with psycho-social well-being in different age groups.

Concepts: British Household Panel Survey, Age groups in Scouting and Guiding

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Overweight and obesity have been associated with unemployment but less is known about changes in weight associated with changes in employment. We examined weight changes associated with job-loss, retirement and maintaining employment in two samples of working adults in the United Kingdom. This was a prospective study of 7201 adults in the European Prospective Investigation of Cancer (EPIC)-Norfolk study (aged 39-76 years) and 4539 adults in the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS) who were followed up over 43 months and 26 months, respectively. In both samples, changes in measured (EPIC) and self-reported (BHPS) weight were computed for each participant and assessed in relation to three employment transitions: maintaining paid employment, retirement and job-loss. Regression models adjusted for potential confounders. Further analyses evaluated the contribution of diet, physical activity and smoking to weight gain. In EPIC-Norfolk, weight change differed across the three employment transitions for women but not men. The mean (95% CI) annualised change in weight for women who became unemployed over the follow-up period was 0.70 (0.55, 0.85) kg/y while those who maintained employment gained 0.49 (0.43, 0.55) kg/y (P = 0.007). Accounting for changes in smoking, diet and physical activity did not substantially alter the difference in weight gain among groups. In BHPS, job-loss was associated with weight gain of 1.56 (0.89, 2.23) kg/y, while those who maintained employment 0.60 (0.53, 0.68) kg/y (P < 0.001). In both samples, weight changes associated with retirement were similar to those staying in work. In BHPS, job-loss was also associated with significant declines in self-reported well-being and increases in sleep-loss. Two UK-based samples of working adults reveal strong associations between job-loss and excess weight gain. The mediating behaviours are so far unclear but psychosocial mechanisms and sleep-loss may contribute to the excess weight gain among individuals who become unemployed.

Concepts: Longitudinal study, Nutrition, Obesity, Overweight, United Kingdom, Panel data, British Household Panel Survey, Panel Study of Income Dynamics