Self-assessed health - A case study of social differentials in Soweto, South Africa

Leah Gilbert, Varda Soskolne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The study of the relationship between health and social differentials as a focus of research is not new. However, most of the studies originate in the Western-developed world and are thus informed by this specific social and cultural context. The aim of the paper was to analyse the relationship between health and a range of social factors in a specific social context of a relatively deprived community in South Africa. It is based on a secondary analysis of data collected in a comprehensive social survey of Soweto conducted in 1997. A total of 2947 interviews were used for the current analysis. An attempt was made to explore basic measures of social inequality as well as more sophisticated indicators of social relationships and access to "social resources" and how they are linked to people's perception of their own health. The results reveal a clear relationship between health and a range of socio-economic indicators of inequalities. Health is significantly associated with a good "perception about the living environment" and "access to social resources". This paper presents an interesting scenario which -while reaffirming the already established connection between social differentials and health - also sheds light on a different social context and specific relationships with regard to health. It also points towards the ways people try to cope with the psycho-social stressor emanating from their specific context.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-205
Number of pages13
JournalHealth and Place
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2003


  • Self-assessed health
  • Social inequalities
  • Social networks
  • Social resources
  • South Africa


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