The persistence of socioeconomic inequalities in health (SEIH) might be explained by changes in the role of education, occupation, and income. Sociohistorical developments suggest that education’s role as a ‘gatekeeper' for access to higher skilled jobs and better financial rewards has become more important in recent decades. If this is the case, it is expected that the role of education has changed over time. Data from three birth cohorts aged between 55-64 years were collected in 1992, 2002, and 2012 and derived from the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam. Multi-group mediation models with direct and indirect paths between education, occupation, income and physical functioning, physical performance, and depressive symptoms were examined. Absolute health inequalities in physical functioning, physical performance, and depression persisted across cohorts for all three socioeconomic indicators. The direct effect of occupation, but not education, was larger in later birth cohorts, whereas the effect of income was smaller in the later birth cohorts. However, the effect of income was not statistically significant in the youngest birth cohort. Socioeconomic inequalities in physical functioning, physical activity, and depression are indeed persistent over time, and they can partially be explained by the changing role of education. Education becomes more important in determining level of occupation and less important in determining the level of income. Hence the stability of SEIH might be explained by the fact that occupation partially substitutes education’s role in explaining SEIH. This suggests that credential inflation is the mechanism by which changes in SEIH occur.