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Change in income and change in self-rated health: Systematic review of studies using repeated measures to control for confounding bias

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  • Gunasekara, Fiona Imlach
  • Carter, Kristie
  • Blakely, Tony
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    Abstract

    It is generally assumed that income is strongly and positively associated with health. However, much of the evidence supporting this assumption comes from cross-sectional data or analyses that have not fully accounted for biases from confounding and health selection (the reverse pathway from health to income). This paper reports results of a systematic review of panel and longitudinal studies investigating whether changes in income led to changes in self-rated health (SRH) in adults. A variety of electronic databases were searched, up until January 2010, and thirteen studies were included, using data from five different panel or longitudinal studies. The majority of studies found a small, positive and statistically significant association of income with SRH, which was much reduced after controlling for unmeasured confounders and/or health selection. Residual bias, particularly from measurement error, probably reduced this association to the null. Most studies investigated short-term associations between income and SRH or the effect of temporary (usually one year) income changes or shocks, so did not rule out possibly stronger associations between health and longer-term average income or income lagged over longer time periods. Nevertheless, the true causal short-term relationship between income and health, estimated by longitudinal studies of income change and SRH that control for confounding, may be much smaller than that suggested by previous, mostly cross-sectional, research.

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    Bibliographic Info

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

    Volume (Year): 72 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 2 (January)
    Pages: 193-201

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:72:y:2011:i:2:p:193-201

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    Related research

    Keywords: Income Health change Longitudinal studies Systematic review Self-rated health;

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    Cited by:
    1. Oshio, Takashi & Umeda, Maki & Fujii, Mayu, 2012. "The association between income dynamics and subjective well-being: Evidence from career income records in Japan," CIS Discussion paper series 564, Center for Intergenerational Studies, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
    2. Gunasekara, Fiona Imlach & Carter, Kristie & Blakely, Tony, 2012. "Comparing self-rated health and self-assessed change in health in a longitudinal survey: Which is more valid?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 74(7), pages 1117-1124.
    3. Karlsdotter, Kristina & Martín Martín, José J. & López del Amo González, M. Puerto, 2012. "Multilevel analysis of income, income inequalities and health in Spain," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 74(7), pages 1099-1106.
    4. Maite Blázquez Cuesta & Santiago Budría, 2013. "Does income deprivation affect people’s mental well-being?," Banco de Espa�a Working Papers 1312, Banco de Espa�a.
    5. Nobles, Jenna & Weintraub, Miranda Ritterman & Adler, Nancy E., 2013. "Subjective socioeconomic status and health: Relationships reconsidered," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 82(C), pages 58-66.
    6. Oshio, Takashi & Umeda, Maki & Fujii, Mayu, 2013. "The association of life satisfaction and self-rated health with income dynamics among male employees in Japan," Japan and the World Economy, Elsevier, vol. 28(C), pages 143-150.
    7. Aittomäki, Akseli & Martikainen, Pekka & Laaksonen, Mikko & Lahelma, Eero & Rahkonen, Ossi, 2012. "Household economic resources, labour-market advantage and health problems – A study on causal relationships using prospective register data," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 75(7), pages 1303-1310.

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