An alternative perspective on health inequality
AbstractWhile much attention has focused on health disparities between socio-economic groups, most health inequality actually occurs within socio-economic groups. We examine trends in overall health inequality – measured by realized length-of-life inequality – through the lens of social justice, similar to traditional analysis of income inequality. We find that throughout most of the length-of-life distribution, inequality has declined dramatically over the past century. It has continued to decline even in the past 40 years, a period over which it is generally thought that income inequality has risen considerably. Most of the decline in length-of-life inequality appears to be driven by reductions in inequality within socio-economic groups. Using a reasonable estimate of the value of a quality-adjusted life year (QALY) we find that, on a lifetime basis, the least healthy individuals in society have gained more than eight times as much as the healthiest. In dollar terms, the relative gain for the 10th percentile of health relative to the 90th percentile of health is more than $400,000.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoArticle provided by AccessEcon in its journal Economics Bulletin.
Volume (Year): 32 (2012)
Issue (Month): 4 ()
Contact details of provider:
health inequality; income inequality; life expectancy;
Find related papers by JEL classification:
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Stevenson, Betsey & Wolfers, Justin, 2008.
"Happiness Inequality in the United States,"
IZA Discussion Papers
3624, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
- Betsey Stevenson & Justin Wolfers, 2008. "Happiness Inequality in the United States," NBER Working Papers 14220, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Stevenson, Betsey & Wolfers, Justin, 2008. "Happiness Inequality in the United States," CEPR Discussion Papers 6929, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- John C. Harsanyi, 1953. "Cardinal Utility in Welfare Economics and in the Theory of Risk-taking," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 61, pages 434.
- Ryan D. Edwards & Shripad Tuljapurkar, 2005. "Inequality in Life Spans and a New Perspective on Mortality Convergence Across Industrialized Countries," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 31(4), pages 645-674.
- Thomas Piketty & Emmanuel Saez, 2003. "Income Inequality In The United States, 1913-1998," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(1), pages 1-39, February.
- Jonathan Heathcote & Fabrizio Perri & Giovanni L. Violante, 2010.
"Unequal We Stand: An Empirical Analysis of Economic Inequality in the United States: 1967-2006,"
Review of Economic Dynamics,
Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 13(1), pages 15-51, January.
- Jonathan Heathcote & Fabrizio Perri & Giovanni L. Violante, 2009. "Unequal We Stand: An Empirical Analysis of Economic Inequality in the United States, 1967-2006," NBER Working Papers 15483, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Heathcote, Jonathan & Perri, Fabrizio & Violante, Giovanni L, 2009. "Unequal We Stand: An Empirical Analysis of Economic Inequality in the United States, 1967-2006," CEPR Discussion Papers 7538, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Jonathan Heathcote & Fabrizio Perri & Giovanni L. Violante, 2010. "Code and data files for "Unequal We Stand: An Empirical Analysis of Economic Inequality in the United States: 1967-2006"," Computer Codes 09-214, Review of Economic Dynamics.
- Jonathan Heathcote & Fabrizio Perri & Giovanni L. Violante, 2009. "Unequal we stand: an empirical analysis of economic inequality in the United States, 1967-2006," Staff Report 436, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
- John S. Greenlees & James E. Duggan & Robert Gillingham, 2007.
"Mortality and Lifetime Income: Evidence from U.S. Social Security Records,"
IMF Working Papers
07/15, International Monetary Fund.
- James E Duggan & Robert Gillingham & John S Greenlees, 2008. "Mortality and Lifetime Income: Evidence from U.S. Social Security Records," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 55(4), pages 566-594, December.
- Crimmins, Eileen M. & Saito, Yasuhiko, 2001. "Trends in healthy life expectancy in the United States, 1970-1990: gender, racial, and educational differences," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 52(11), pages 1629-1641, June.
- Joan Costa-Font & Marin Gemmill & Gloria Rubert, 2008.
"Re-visiting the Health Care Luxury Good Hypothesis: Aggregation, Precision, and Publication Biases?,"
Working Papers in Economics
197, Universitat de Barcelona. Espai de Recerca en Economia.
- Costa-Font, J & Gemmill M & Rubert G, 2009. "Re-visiting the Health Care Luxury Good Hypothesis: Aggregation, Precision, and Publication Biases?," Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers 09/02, HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York.
- Joan Costa-i-Font & Marin Gemmill & Gloria Rubert, 2009. "Re-visiting the health care luxury good hypothesis: aggregation, precision, and publication biases?," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 25303, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
- Cristia, Julian P., 2009.
"Rising mortality and life expectancy differentials by lifetime earnings in the United States,"
Journal of Health Economics,
Elsevier, vol. 28(5), pages 984-995, September.
- Julian Cristia, 2009. "Rising Mortality and Life Expectancy Differentials by Lifetime Earnings in the United States," Research Department Publications 4607, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
- Ryan D. Edwards, 2010. "Trends in World Inequality in Life Span Since 1970," NBER Working Papers 16088, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Meena Seshamani & Alastair Gray, 2004. "Ageing and health-care expenditure: the red herring argument revisited," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 13(4), pages 303-314.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (John P. Conley).
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.