Social Sciences Researchers awarded ZonMw Grant

VU Amsterdam’s Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam (LASA) has been awarded a grant from the Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development (ZonMw).

01/29/2018 | 1:00 PM

This grant will enable the research team to continue its long-term study of socio-economic health differences. LASA researcher Almar Kok indicates that the value of the research lies in testing the validity of existing theories on the persistence of socio-economic health differences.

It has been known for some time that differences in lifestyle, social contacts and personality traits are important factors in explaining the differences in health and life expectancy between people from different socio-economic backgrounds. Despite the various interventions that specifically target these factors, it now appears that socio-economic health differences have barely diminished over the past 30 years. The LASA research team will use the ZonMw grant to investigate whether this continuing inequality could result from shifts in the relative prominence of certain factors over time. For instance, it is possible that the differences in cognitive skills between people with different levels of education have grown in recent decades, while differences in the levels of loneliness experienced by these two groups have decreased. The team will map such changes over time to produce recommendations on how policy can be adapted based on their findings.

The LASA research team is delighted with the grant. From a scientific perspective, the researchers point to the valuable contribution their work makes to the discourse surrounding the persistence of socio-economic health differences. From a social point of view, too, the LASA team feel that their work may offer crucial insights into an important topic. The research also acts as a catalyst for methodological innovation, as this is a complex issue requiring the application of highly refined models. Almar Kok, one of the project’s researchers, could not feel more at home at LASA: “This is a great opportunity to continue my scientific career after having completed my PhD here at VU Amsterdam. It gives me the chance to explore an issue that fascinates me, and which feels like a natural continuation of my previous research.”