Is personality a driving force for socioeconomic differences in young adults' health care use? A prospective cohort study

Maren Kraft*, Koos Arts, Tanja Traag, Ferdy Otten, Hans Bosma

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


To relate personality characteristics at the age of 12 to socioeconomic differences in health care use in young adulthood. And thereby examining the extent to which socioeconomic differences in the use of health care in young adulthood are based on differences in personality characteristics, independent of the (parental) socioeconomic background.

Personality of more than 13,000 Dutch 12-year old participants was related to their health and socioeconomic position after a follow-up of 13 years (when the participants had become young adults).

In young adulthood, low socioeconomic status was related to high health care use (e.g. low education -hospital admission: OR = 2.21; low income -GP costs: OR = 1.25). Odds ratios (for the socioeconomic health differences) did not decrease when controlled for personality.

In this Dutch sample of younger people, personality appeared not to be a driving force for socioeconomic differences in health care use. Findings thus do not support the personality-related, indirect selection perspective on the explanation of socioeconomic differences in health.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)795-802
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Public Health
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2017


  • Socioeconomic health inequalities
  • Personality
  • Individual differences
  • Indirect selection

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