Socioeconomic status and health: A micro-level analysis of exposure and vulnerability to daily stressors

Joseph G. Grzywacz, David M. Almeida, Shevaun D. Neupert, Susan L. Ettner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

239 Scopus citations


This study examines the interconnections among education - as a proxy for socioeconomic status - stress, and physical and mental health by specifying differential exposure and vulnerability models using data from The National Study of Daily Experiences (N = 1,031). These daily diary data allowed assessment of the social distribution of a qualitatively different type of stressor than has previously been examined in sociological stress research - daily stressors, or hassles. Moreover, these data allowed a less biased assessment of stress exposure and a more micro-level examination of the connections between stress and health by socioeconomic status. Consistent with the broad literature describing socioeconomic inequalities in physical and mental health, the results of this study indicated that, on any given day, better-educated adults reported fewer physical symptoms and less psychological distress. Although better educated individuals reported more daily stressors, stressors reported by those with less education were more severe. Finally, neither exposure nor vulnerability explained socioeconomic differentials in daily health, but the results clearly indicate that the stressor-health association cannot be considered independent of socioeconomic status.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of health and social behavior
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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