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What is the relationship between income inequality and health? Evidence from the BHPS

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Author Info

  • Paula K. Lorgelly

    (Section of Public Health and Health Policy, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK)

  • Joanne Lindley

    (Department of Economics, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK)

Abstract

Income inequality hypotheses propose that income differentials and|or income distributions have a detrimental effect on health. This previously well accepted relationship between inequality and health has recently come under scrutiny; some claim that it is a statistical artefact, arguing that aggregate level data are not sophisticated enough to adequately test for (and discriminate between) their existence. Supporters argue that it is a question of estimating the relationship using, amongst other things, an appropriate geographical scale. This paper adds to the debate by estimating the relationship between income inequality and health using individual panel data, exploring the relationship at the regional as well as the national level, while attempting to discriminate between the competing hypotheses. Pooled, random and fixed effects ordered probit models are exploited to estimate the relationship between self-reported health and household income, income inequality and relative income. While the estimating regressions find support for the absolute income hypothesis, there is no support for the income inequality hypothesis or relative income hypothesis, and as such we argue that there is limited evidence of an effect of income inequality on health within Britain. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1002/hec.1254
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. in its journal Health Economics.

Volume (Year): 17 (2008)
Issue (Month): 2 ()
Pages: 249-265

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Handle: RePEc:wly:hlthec:v:17:y:2008:i:2:p:249-265

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Web page: http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/jhome/5749

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References

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Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. The Spirit Level is junk science part deux (updated)
    by Tino in Super-Economy on 2010-02-15 07:08:00
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Cited by:
  1. Grönqvist, Hans & Johansson, Per & Niknami, Susan, 2012. "Income Inequality and Health: Lessons from a Refugee Residential Assignment Program," IZA Discussion Papers 6554, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Giacomo Corneo, 2011. "GINI DP 17: Income Inequality, Value Systems and Macroeconomic Performance," GINI Discussion Papers 17, AIAS, Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Labour Studies.
  3. Böckerman, Petri, 2010. "Top income shares and mortality: Evidence from advanced countries," MPRA Paper 19970, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  4. Boyce, Christopher J. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2008. "Do People Become Healthier after Being Promoted?," IZA Discussion Papers 3894, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Vincent Hildebrand & Philippe Kerm, 2009. "Income inequality and self-rated health status: Evidence from the european community household panel," Demography, Springer, vol. 46(4), pages 805-825, November.
  6. Hugh Gravelle & Matt Sutton, 2009. "Income, relative income, and self-reported health in Britain 1979-2000," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(2), pages 125-145.
  7. Petrie, Dennis & Allanson, Paul & Gerdtham, Ulf-G., 2011. "Accounting for the dead in the longitudinal analysis of income-related health inequalities," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(5), pages 1113-1123.
  8. repec:aia:ginidp:dp17 is not listed on IDEAS
  9. Chen, Zhuo & Gotway Crawford, Carol A., 2012. "The role of geographic scale in testing the income inequality hypothesis as an explanation of health disparities," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 75(6), pages 1022-1031.
  10. 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.
  11. Feng, Zhixin & Wang, Wenfei Winnie & Jones, Kelvyn & Li, Yaqing, 2012. "An exploratory multilevel analysis of income, income inequality and self-rated health of the elderly in China," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 75(12), pages 2481-2492.
  12. Van Ourti, Tom & van Doorslaer, Eddy & Koolman, Xander, 2009. "The effect of income growth and inequality on health inequality: Theory and empirical evidence from the European Panel," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 525-539, May.
  13. Owen O'Donnell & Eddy Van Doorslaer & Tom Van Ourti, 2013. "Health and Inequality," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 13-170/V, Tinbergen Institute.
  14. 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.

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