Inequality, Wealth and Health: Is Decreasing Income Inequality the Key to Create Healthier Societies?
AbstractThe idea that the level of stratification of societies contributes to the well-being of their members is gaining popularity. We contribute to this debate by investigating whether reducing inequalities in the income distribution of societies is a strategy for improving population health, especially appropriate for those countries that have reached the limits of economic growth. We test this idea on a dataset covering 140 countries and 2360 country-year observation between 1987 and 2008 and formulate hypotheses separately for countries with different level of economic development. We indeed found that countries with higher levels of income inequality also have lower levels of life expectancy (our measure of population health), and this result was consistent both in cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses. However, the relationship was found only among low- and middle-developed countries. In the group of high-developed countries, the relationship between income inequality and life expectancy was non-significant, which contradicts the literature. Expectations on the relationship between a country’s wealth and health were confirmed: economic growth does contribute to improving population health, but this effect is weaker in more economically developed countries. These results imply that a decrease in a country’s income inequality parallel with an increase in its wealth can help to improve health in economically lesser-developed countries, but not in high-developed countries. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2013
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 Springer in its journal Social Indicators Research.
Volume (Year): 113 (2013)
Issue (Month): 3 (September)
Contact details of provider:
Web page: http://www.springer.com/economics/journal/11135
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.:
- Sudhir Anand & Martin Ravallion, 1993. "Human Development in Poor Countries: On the Role of Private Incomes and Public Services," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 7(1), pages 133-150, Winter.
- Ranis, Gustav & Stewart, Frances & Ramirez, Alejandro, 2000.
"Economic Growth and Human Development,"
Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 197-219, February.
- Ram, Rati, 2006. "Further examination of the cross-country association between income inequality and population health," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 62(3), pages 779-791, February.
- Lant Pritchett & Lawrence H. Summers, 1996.
"Wealthier is Healthier,"
Journal of Human Resources,
University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 31(4), pages 841-868.
- Mishra, Prachi & Newhouse, David, 2009. "Does health aid matter?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(4), pages 855-872, July.
- Frederick Solt, 2009. "Standardizing the World Income Inequality Database," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 90(2), pages 231-242.
- Biggs, Brian & King, Lawrence & Basu, Sanjay & Stuckler, David, 2010. "Is wealthier always healthier? The impact of national income level, inequality, and poverty on public health in Latin America," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 266-273, July.
- Coburn, David, 2004. "Beyond the income inequality hypothesis: class, neo-liberalism, and health inequalities," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 58(1), pages 41-56, January.
- Angus Deaton, 2002.
"Health, inequality, and economic development,"
270, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Health and Wellbeing..
- Deaton, A., 2001. "Health, Inequality, and Economic Development," Papers 200, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Development Studies.
- Angus Deaton, 2002. "Health, inequality, and economic development," Working Papers 209, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Research Program in Development Studies..
- Angus Deaton, 2001. "Health, Inequality, and Economic Development," NBER Working Papers 8318, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Lynch, John, 2000. "Income inequality and health: expanding the debate," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 51(7), pages 1001-1005, October.
- Babones, Salvatore J., 2008. "Income inequality and population health: Correlation and causality," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 66(7), pages 1614-1626, April.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Guenther Eichhorn) or (Christopher F Baum).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.