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Exploring relative deprivation: Is social comparison a mechanism in the relation between income and health?

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  • Åberg Yngwe, Monica
  • Fritzell, Johan
  • Lundberg, Olle
  • Diderichsen, Finn
  • Burström, Bo
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    Abstract

    During the last decade there has been a growing interest in the relation between income and health. The discussion has mostly focused on the individual's relative standing in the income distribution with the implicit understanding that the absolute level of income is not as relevant when the individual's basic needs are fulfilled. This study hypothesises relative deprivation to be a mechanism in the relation between income and health in Sweden: being relatively deprived in comparison to a reference group causes a stressful situation, which might affect self-rated health. Reference groups were formed by combining indicators of social class, age and living region, resulting in 40 reference groups. Within each of these groups a mean income level was calculated and individuals with an income below 70% of the mean income level in the reference group were considered as being relatively deprived. The results showed that more women than men were relatively deprived, but the effect of relative deprivation on self-rated health was more pronounced among men than among women. In order to estimate the importance of the effect of relative income versus the effect of absolute income, some analyses on the effect of relative deprivation on self-rated health were also carried out within different absolute income levels. When restricting the analysis to the lowest 40% of the income span the effect of relative deprivation almost disappeared. Relative deprivation may have a significant relation to health among men. However, for the 40% with the lowest income in the population the effect of relative deprivation on health is considerably reduced, possibly due to the more prominent relation between low absolute income and poor health.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Social Science & Medicine.

    Volume (Year): 57 (2003)
    Issue (Month): 8 (October)
    Pages: 1463-1473

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:57:y:2003:i:8:p:1463-1473

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    Keywords: Relative deprivation Income Reference groups Self-rated health Sweden;

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    Cited by:
    1. Sun, Ping & Unger, Jennifer B. & Palmer, Paula & Ma, Huiyan & Xie, Bin & Sussman, Steve & Johnson, C. Anderson, 2012. "Relative income inequality and selected health outcomes in urban Chinese youth," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 74(1), pages 84-91.
    2. Modrek, Sepideh & Dow, William H. & Rosero-Bixby, Luis, 2012. "Long-term association of economic inequality and mortality in adult Costa Ricans," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 74(2), pages 158-166.
    3. Saito, Masashige & Kondo, Naoki & Kondo, Katsunori & Ojima, Toshiyuki & Hirai, Hiroshi, 2012. "Gender differences on the impacts of social exclusion on mortality among older Japanese: AGES cohort study," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 75(5), pages 940-945.
    4. Miething, Alexander, 2013. "A matter of perception: Exploring the role of income satisfaction in the income–mortality relationship in German survey data 1995–2010," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 99(C), pages 72-79.
    5. Kjellsson, Sara, 2013. "Accumulated occupational class and self-rated health. Can information on previous experience of class further our understanding of the social gradient in health?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 81(C), pages 26-33.
    6. Nelson, Kenneth & Fritzell, Johan, 2014. "Welfare states and population health: The role of minimum income benefits for mortality," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 112(C), pages 63-71.
    7. Zheng, Hui & George, Linda K., 2012. "Rising U.S. income inequality and the changing gradient of socioeconomic status on physical functioning and activity limitations, 1984–2007," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 75(12), pages 2170-2182.
    8. Kuo, Chun-Tung & Chiang, Tung-liang, 2013. "The association between relative deprivation and self-rated health, depressive symptoms, and smoking behavior in Taiwan," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 89(C), pages 39-44.
    9. Adjaye-Gbewonyo, Kafui & Kawachi, Ichiro, 2012. "Use of the Yitzhaki Index as a test of relative deprivation for health outcomes: A review of recent literature," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 75(1), pages 129-137.
    10. Mark R. Montgomery & Paul C. Hewett, 2004. "Urban Poverty and Health in Developing Countries: Household and Neighborhood Effects," Department of Economics Working Papers 04-01, Stony Brook University, Department of Economics.
    11. Victoria Ateca-Amestoy & Alexandra Aguilar & Ana Moro-Egido, 2014. "Social Interactions and Life Satisfaction: Evidence from Latin America," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 15(3), pages 527-554, June.
    12. Chau-kiu Cheung, 2013. "Morale in Relation to Caring and Social Exclusion in Society," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 113(1), pages 471-490, August.

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