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Does income inequality make us sick? Whether, and (if so) how, income inequality affects personal health

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  • Stijn Rottiers
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    Abstract

    It is an established fact that the level of one’s income affects one’s health. More divisive, however, is the question whether people’s health is also affected by inequalities in income. The latter would imply that not only how much income we have matters for health, but also how much more or less we have of it compared to others. If this is the case, one of the farreaching consequences would be that the benefits that we believe economic growth is to bring about (among others, better health for everyone) become uncertain if we do not also focus on redistribution. In recent years, the question whether income inequality affects health has received a growing scholarly interest and has been repeatedly scrutinized empirically. Unfortunately, however, consensus has not been reached. Far from it, in fact: in the lively debate, time and again an affirmative analysis is set against a negative one, and vice versa. In this review, I expound upon the arguments of both positions and conclude with some indications, which suggest that health might indeed be affected by income inequality.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Herman Deleeck Centre for Social Policy, University of Antwerp in its series Working Papers with number 1003.

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    Date of creation: Sep 2010
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    Handle: RePEc:hdl:wpaper:1003

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    Keywords: absolute income hypothesis; health; income inequality; negative inequality effect;

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