From February 2017, information about the work of the MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow is available and updated on the University of Glasgow website.

Health (In)Equalities in Youth

Note that these studies were conducted as part of the Youth and Health programme which formally ceased at the end of March 2010, although team members have continued to prepare publications in this research area.

It is often assumed that health inequalities are a persistent feature of the life course, applying to all or most measures of health. Research under this theme was directed to questioning whether this assumption holds true in youth and, if not, at what point health inequalities emerge.

Using data from both the Twenty-07 and 11 to 16/16+ studies, analyses examined the patterning of a range of health measures by reference to social class and other indicators of socio-economic status from late childhood through adolescence to early adulthood. The evidence from this work cast doubt on the validity of the assumption that health inequalities exist throughout the life course, at least with respect to certain dimensions of health, and was instrumental in stimulating an international debate.

Further analyses involved exploring dimensions of socioeconomic status of particular relevance to youth, focussing principally on their own income (pocket money etc), its relationship to family social class and consequences for health and health behaviours.




Glendinning A, West P. Young people's mental health in context: comparing life in the city and small communities in Siberia. Social Science & Medicine 2007;65:1180-1191


West P, Sweeting H, Young R. Smoking in Scottish youths: personal income, parental social class and the cost of smoking. Tobacco Control 2007;16:329-335

pubmed  open access  


West P, Sweeting H, Young R, Robins M. A material paradox: socioeconomic status, young people's disposable income and consumer culture. Journal of Youth Studies 2006;9:437-462


West P, Sweeting H. Evidence on equalisation in health in youth from the West of Scotland. Social Science & Medicine 2004;59:13-27



West P, Sweeting H. Fifteen, female and stressed: changing patterns of psychological distress over time. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 2003;44:399-411



West P. Health inequalities in the early years: is there equalisation in youth?. Social Science & Medicine 1997;44:833-58

open access  


West P, Sweeting H. Health inequalities: what's going on in youth?. Health Education 1996;5:14-20

West P, Sweeting H. Nae job, nae future: young people and health in a context of unemployment. Health & Social Care in the Community 1996;4:50-62


Sweeting H, West P. Family life and health in adolescence: a role for culture in the health inequalities debate?. Social Science & Medicine 1995;40:163-175



Ford G, Ecob R, Hunt K, Macintyre S, West P. Patterns of class inequality in health through the lifespan: class gradients at 15, 35 and 55 years in the West of Scotland. Social Science & Medicine 1994;39:1037-1050

pubmed  open access  


Macintyre S, West P. Lack of class variation in health in adolescence: an artefact of an occupational measure of social class. Social Science & Medicine 1991;32:395-402

pubmed  open access  

West P. Rethinking the health selection explanation for health inequalities. Social Science & Medicine 1991;32:373-384

open access  


West P, Macintyre S, Annandale E, Hunt K. Social class and health in youth: findings from the West of Scotland Twenty-07 Study. Social Science & Medicine 1990;30:665-673

pubmed  open access  


West P. Inequalities? Social class differentials in health in British youth. Social Science & Medicine 1988;27:291-296