This article investigates social inequality in onset of mobility disability and in measures of social relations and whether social relations mediated the effect of socioeconomic status on mobility.
A total of 2,825 nondisabled older men and women, enrolled in the Danish Intervention Study on Preventive Home Visits, constituted the study population. Data were obtained by mailed questionnaires in 1998-1999 and 2001-2002 and by merging analyses to registers at Statistics Denmark.
There was a social gradient in onset of mobility disability, with odds ratio of 1.11 (1.07-1.15) per step down the deciles of financial assets and in cohabitation status, social participation, and network diversity. Social relations did not mediate the effect of financial assets on onset of mobility disability.
The negative effects of low financial assets and poor social relations on mobility appear to be independent. More longitudinal studies on possible mediators of the social gradient in mobility among older people are needed.