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.
As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.
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.:
- Pritchett, Lant & Summers, Lawrence H., 1993.
"Wealthier is healthier,"
Policy Research Working Paper Series
1150, The World Bank.
- Deaton, A., 2001.
"Health, Inequality, and Economic Development,"
Papers, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Development Studies
200, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Development Studies.
- Angus Deaton, 2002. "Health, inequality, and economic development," Working Papers 270, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Health and Wellbeing..
- 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.
- 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.
- Mishra, Prachi & Newhouse, David, 2009. "Does health aid matter?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(4), pages 855-872, July.
- Ranis, Gustav & Stewart, Frances & Ramirez, Alejandro, 2000.
"Economic Growth and Human Development,"
Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 197-219, February.
- Ranis, G. & Ramirez, A. & Stewart, F., 1997. "Economic Growth and Human Development," Papers, Yale - Economic Growth Center 787, Yale - Economic Growth Center.
- Alejandro Ramirez & Gustav Ranis & Frances Stewart, . "Economic Growth and Human Development -," QEH Working Papers qehwps18, Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford.
- Babones, Salvatore J., 2008. "Income inequality and population health: Correlation and causality," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 66(7), pages 1614-1626, April.
- Frederick Solt, 2009. "Standardizing the World Income Inequality Database," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 90(2), pages 231-242.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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 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.