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Socioeconmic Status and Social Inequality

The impact of socioeconomic status on health and life expectancy is regularly confirmed by epidemiological studies.

Persons with low socioeconomic status are more commonly affected by chronic diseases, psychosomatic symptoms, injuries due to accidents, and disabilities. They assess their own health more negatively and report health-related limitations in everyday life more often.

As a consequence, they have higher requirements for medical healthcare services and social protection in the event of illness. The effects of social disadvantages accumulate through the course of their lives and are therefore clearly evident in premature mortality too.

Activities at Robert Koch Institute

Social inequality in health opportunities and risks of disease is a main topic of epidemiological research and health reporting at the Robert Koch Institute (RKI).

Health monitoring data is regularly evaluated according to social status. An index developed by the RKI is usually used for this purpose. This index is based on information on the level of education, occupational status and income situation.

In addition, further observations can be made under consideration of the employment status, way of life or area of residence.

In the context of health reporting, the issue of social inequality and its effects on health is also dealt with using external data sources, for example the German Socio-Economic Panel or the microcensus.

Research Projects and Cooperation

The RKI is represented in the federal government’s panel of scientific experts on poverty and wealth reporting. In this context, the RKI has carried out a number of research projects whose results have been incorporated in the poverty and wealth reports.

The results of these projects and the activities in the context of health reporting have also been used in other reporting systems, such as social reporting (data report) and the special report of the Advisory Council on the Assessment of Developments in the Health System.

In addition to a large number of cooperation agreements with universities and non-university establishments, the Social Epidemiology Working Group is an important platform for external cooperation. The Social Epidemiology Working Group is a collaboration of the German Society for Medical Sociology, the German Society for Social Medicine and Prevention and the German Society for Epidemiology.


SARS-CoV-2 among migrants and forcibly displaced populations: a rapid systematic review

Hintermeier M, Gencer H, Kajikhina K, Rohleder S, Santos-Hövener C, Tallarek M, Spallek J, Bozorgmehr K (2021) Journal of Migration and Health 4(2021):100056. · DOI 10.1101/2020.12.14.20248152

Subjective social status and health: Multidisciplinary explanations and methodological challenges

Hoebel J, Lampert T (2020) J Health Psychol 25(2): 173-185 · DOI: 10.1177/1359105318800804

Socioeconomic status and subjective social status measurement in KiGGS Wave 2

Lampert T, Hoebel J, Kuntz B, Müters S, Kroll LE (2018) Journal of Health Monitoring, 3(1):108-125 doi: 10.17886/RKI-GBE-2018-033

Health inequalities in Germany and in international comparison: trends and developments over time

Lampert T, Kroll LE, Kuntz B, Hoebel J (2018) Journal of Health Monitoring 3(S1):1-24. doi: 10.17886/RKI-GBE-2018-036

Socioeconomic differences in the health behaviour of children and adolescents in Germany. Results of the cross-sectional KiGGS Wave 2 study

Kuntz B, Waldhauer J, Zeiher J, Finger JD, Lampert T (2018) Journal of Health Monitoring 3(2):44-60 doi: 10.17886/RKI-GBE-2018-072

Post-millennial trends of socioeconomic inequalities in chronic illness among adults in Germany

Hoebel J, Kuntz B, Moor I, Kroll LE, Lampert T (2018) BMC Res Notes 11:200 doi: 10.1186/s13104-018-3299-4

Social determinants of swimming ability among children and adolescents in Germany. Results of KiGGS wave 1

Kuntz B, Frank L, Manz K, Rommel A, Lampert T (2016) Dtsch Z Sportmed. 2016; 67: 137-143 DOI: 10.5960/dzsm.2016.238

Socioeconomic status and use of outpatient medical care: the case of Germany

Hoebel J, Rattay P, Prütz F, Rommel A, Lampert T (2016) PLoS One 11(5): e0155982 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0155982

Physical activity, aerobic fitness and parental socio-economic position among adolescents: the German Health Interview and Examination Survey for Children and Adolescents 2003-2006 (KiGGS)

Finger JD, Mensink GBM, Banzer W, Lampert T, Tylleskär T (2014) International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 2014 11:43 doi: 10.1186/1479-5868-11-43

Occupation and educational inequalities in laryngeal cancer: the use of a job index

Santi I, Kroll LE, Dietz A, Becher H, Ramroth H (2013) BMC Public Health 2013, 13:1080 doi: 10.1186/1471-2458-13-1080

Direct costs of inequalities in health care utilization in Germany 1994 to 2009: a top-down projection

Kroll LE, Lampert T (2013) BMC Health Services Research 2013(13):271 doi: 10.1186/1472-6963-13-271

Dietary behaviour and socioeconomic position: the role of physical activity patterns

Finger JD, Tylleskär T, Lampert T, Mensink GBM (2013) PLoSONE 8(11): e78390. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0078390