Inequalities in income and inequalities in health
AbstractWhat is inequality in health? Are economists' standard tools for measuring income inequality relevant or useful for measuring it? Does income protect health and does income inequality pose a hazard to health? In this paper, I discuss two different concepts of health inequality and relate each of them to the literature on inequality in income. I propose a model of reference groups, in which each individual's health is related to his or her status within the group as measured by income relative to the group mean. In such a model, increases in income inequality, whether within groups, or between them, has no effect on average health. Even so, the slope of the relationship between health and measured income, the "gradient," depends on the ratio of between to within-group income inequality. The model is extended to allow income inequality to play a direct positive or negative role in determining health status. Empirical evidence on cross-country income inequality and life expectancy within the OECD, and on time-series evidence for the U.S., Britain, and Japan, provide little support for the idea that inequality is a health hazard at the national level. Data on birth cohorts for the US observed from 1981 to 1993 show no relationship between mortality and income inequality. However, there is a well defined health gradient in these data, and its slope increases with increases in each cohort's income inequality.
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 InfoPaper provided by Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Health and Wellbeing. in its series Working Papers with number 280.
Date of creation: May 1999
Date of revision:
Other versions of this item:
- I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health
You can help add them by filling out this form.
CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
- Bethencourt Marrero, Carlos & Galasso, Vincenzo, 2001.
"On the Political Complementarity Between Health Care and Social Security,"
CEPR Discussion Papers
2788, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Carlos Bethencourt & Vincenzo Galasso, . "On the Political Complementarity between Health Care and Social Security," Working Papers 184, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
- Orazio P. Attanasio & Carl Emmerson, 2001.
"Differential Mortality in the UK,"
NBER Working Papers
8241, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Pradhan, Menno & Sahn, David E. & Younger, Stephen D., 2003.
"Decomposing world health inequality,"
Journal of Health Economics,
Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 271-293, March.
- Janet Currie & Mark Stabile, 2003. "Socioeconomic Status and Child Health: Why Is the Relationship Stronger for Older Children?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(5), pages 1813-1823, December.
- Jennifer M. Mellor & Jeffrey Milyo, 1999. "Re-Examining the Evidence of an Ecological Association between Income Inequality and Health," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 9922, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
- David Cantarero & Marta Pascual & Jose Maria Sarabia, 2005. "Effects of income inequality on population health: new evidence from the european community household panel," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 37(1), pages 87-91.
- David E. Sahn & Stephen D. Younger, 2009. "Measuring intra‐household health inequality: explorations using the body mass index," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(S1), pages S13-S36, April.
- Janet Currie & Mark Stabile, 2002. "Socioeconomic Status and Health: Why is the Relationship Stronger for Older Children?," NBER Working Papers 9098, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Lindley & Lorgelly, 2005.
"The relative income hypothesis: does it exist over time? Evidence from the BHPS,"
Labor and Demography
- Joanne Kathryn Lindley & Paula Lorgelly, 2005. "The relative income hypothesis: does it exist over time? Evidence from the BHPS," Working Papers 2005013, The University of Sheffield, Department of Economics, revised Jun 2005.
- Tamara Tonoyan, 2005. "Poverty, Inequality and Health: А case study of Armenia," Departmental Discussion Papers 124, University of Goettingen, Department of Economics.
- Kenya Valeria Micaela de Souza Noronha & Mônica Viegas Andrade, 2002. "Desigualdades sociais em saúde: evidências empíricas sobre o caso brasileiro," Textos para DiscussÃ£o Cedeplar-UFMG td171, Cedeplar, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais.
- David Cantarero & Marta Pascual & Jose Maria Sarabia, 2004. "Can income inequality contribute to understand inequalities in health? An empirical approach based on the European Community Household Panel," ERSA conference papers ersa04p230, European Regional Science Association.
- Daniel G. Sullivan & Till von Wachter, 2006.
"Mortality, mass-layoffs, and career outcomes: an analysis using administrative data,"
Working Paper Series
WP-06-21, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
- Daniel Sullivan & Till von Wachter, 2007. "Mortality, Mass-Layoffs, and Career Outcomes: An Analysis using Administrative Data," NBER Working Papers 13626, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Martin, Marie-Claude, 2008. "Individual and Collective Resources and Health in Morocco," Working Paper Series RP2008/21, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
- Oded Galor & David Mayer-Foulkes, 2004. "Food for Thought: Basic Needs and Persistent Educational Inequality," GE, Growth, Math methods 0410002, EconWPA.
- David E. Sahn & Stephen D. Younger, 2006. "Changes in inequality and poverty in Latin America: Looking beyond income to health and education," Journal of Applied Economics, Universidad del CEMA, vol. 0, pages 215-234, November.
- Wang, Limin, 2002. "Health outcomes in poor countries and policy options : empirical findings from demographic and health surveys," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2831, The World Bank.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (David Long).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.