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Inequality and mortality: Long-run evidence from a panel of countries

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  • Leigh, Andrew
  • Jencks, Christopher

Abstract

We investigate whether changes in economic inequality affect mortality in rich countries. To answer this question we use a new source of data on income inequality: tax data on the share of pretax income going to the richest 10 percent of the population in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK, and the US between 1903 and 2003. Although this measure is not a good proxy for inequality within the bottom half of the income distribution, it is a good proxy for changes in the top half of the distribution and for the Gini coefficient. In the absence of country and year fixed effects, the income share of the top decile is negatively related to life expectancy and positively related to infant mortality. However, in our preferred fixed-effects specification these relationships are weak, statistically insignificant, and likely to change their sign. Nor do our data suggest that changes in the income share of the richest 10 percent affect homicide or suicide rates.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Health Economics.

Volume (Year): 26 (2007)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 1-24

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jhecon:v:26:y:2007:i:1:p:1-24

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505560

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References

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  1. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson & Pierre Yared, 2005. "From Education to Democracy?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 44-49, May.
  2. Angus S. Deaton & Christina Paxson, 2004. "Mortality, Income, and Income Inequality over Time in Britain and the United States," NBER Chapters, in: Perspectives on the Economics of Aging, pages 247-286 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Alberto Alesina & Reza Baqir & William Easterly, 1997. "Public Goods and Ethnic Divisions," NBER Working Papers 6009, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Alesina, Alberto & La Ferrara, Eliana, 2002. "Who trusts others?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 85(2), pages 207-234, August.
  5. Fajnzylber, Pablo & Lederman, Daniel & Loayza, Norman, 2002. "Inequality and Violent Crime," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 45(1), pages 1-40, April.
  6. Deaton, A., 2001. "Health, Inequality, and Economic Development," Papers 200, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Development Studies.
  7. Waldmann, Robert J, 1992. "Income Distribution and Infant Mortality," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(4), pages 1283-302, November.
  8. Angus Deaton, 2001. "Relative Deprivation, Inequality, and Mortality," NBER Working Papers 8099, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Gravelle, Hugh & Wildman, John & Sutton, Matthew, 2002. "Income, income inequality and health: what can we learn from aggregate data?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 54(4), pages 577-589, February.
  10. Meltzer, Allan H & Richard, Scott F, 1981. "A Rational Theory of the Size of Government," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 914-27, October.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Katja Hanewald, 2008. "Beyond the business cycle - factors driving aggregate mortality rates," SFB 649 Discussion Papers SFB649DP2008-031, Sonderforschungsbereich 649, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany.
  2. Okada, Keisuke & Samreth, Sovannroeun, 2011. "A study on the socio-economic determinants of suicide: Evidence from 13 European OECD countries," MPRA Paper 29075, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  3. Thomas Maag, 2008. "Economic Correlates of Suicide Rates in OECD Countries," KOF Working papers 08-207, KOF Swiss Economic Institute, ETH Zurich.
  4. Ana I. Balsa & Michael T. French & Tracy L. Regan, 2012. "Relative Deprivation and Risky Behaviors," Documentos de Trabajo/Working Papers 1203, Facultad de Ciencias Empresariales y Economia. Universidad de Montevideo..
  5. Dierk Herzer & Peter Nunnenkamp, 2011. "Income Inequality and Health: New Evidence from Panel Data," Kiel Working Papers 1736, Kiel Institute for the World Economy.
  6. Hans Grönqvist & Per Johansson & Susan Niknami, 2011. "Income Inequality and Health: Lessons from a Residential Assignment Program," Norface Discussion Paper Series 2011017, Norface Research Programme on Migration, Department of Economics, University College London.
  7. Zheng, Hui, 2012. "Do people die from income inequality of a decade ago?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 75(1), pages 36-45.
  8. Nilsson, Therese & Bergh, Andreas, 2012. "Income Inequality and Individual Health: Exploring the Association in a Developing Country," Working Papers 2012:1, Lund University, Department of Economics.
  9. Layte, Richard & Nolan, Anne, 2013. "Socioeconomic Differentials in Male Mortality in Ireland: 1984-2008," Papers WP470, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
  10. Owen O'Donnell & Eddy Van Doorslaer & Tom Van Ourti, 2013. "Health and Inequality," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 13-170/V, Tinbergen Institute.
  11. Grönqvist, Hans & Johansson, Per & Niknami, Susan, 2012. "Income Inequality and Health: Lessons from a Refugee Residential Assignment Program," Working Paper Series 4/2012, Swedish Institute for Social Research.
  12. Mark R. Cullen & Clint Cummins & Victor R. Fuchs, 2012. "Geographic and Racial Variation in Premature Mortality in the US: Analyzing the Disparities," NBER Working Papers 17901, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Lixin Cai, 2008. "Be Wealthy to Stay Healthy: An Analysis of Older Australians Using the HILDA Survey," Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series wp2008n08, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne.
  14. Mary C. Daly & Daniel J. Wilson, 2013. "Inequality and mortality: new evidence from U.S. county panel data," Working Paper Series 2013-13, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  15. Justina AV Fischer & Antonio Rodriguez-Andrés, 2008. "Political institutions and suicide: A regional analysis of Switzerland," TWI Research Paper Series 33, Thurgauer Wirtschaftsinstitut, Universität Konstanz.
  16. Blum, Matthias, 2013. "The influence of inequality on the standard of living: Worldwide anthropometric evidence from the 19th and 20th centuries," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 11(4), pages 436-452.
  17. Pulok, Mohammad Habibullah, 2012. "Revisiting Health and Income Inequality Relationship:Evidence from Developing Countries," MPRA Paper 39766, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  18. Böckerman, Petri, 2010. "Top income shares and mortality: Evidence from advanced countries," MPRA Paper 19970, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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