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A formal investigation of inequalities in health behaviours after age 50 on the Island of Ireland

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  • Eibhlin Hudson

    (Trinity College Dublin)

  • David Madden

    (University College Dublin)

  • Irene Mosca

    (Trinity College Dublin)

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    Abstract

    Smoking, low physical activity and frequent alcohol consumption may have substantial health risks in terms of disease, quality of life and mortality. Understanding inequality in relation to these behaviours among older people is important in the context of a rapidly ageing population. In this study, we examine income-related inequality in relation to these three key health behaviours using data on older adults from both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. We employ concentration indices and decompose them to determine the factors which contribute most to inequality. We then examine whether differences exist between the two regions. We find that smoking and low physical activity are more concentrated among those with lower incomes in both regions. In relation to physical activity, the magnitude of the inequality is higher for Northern Ireland. Frequent alcohol consumption is more concentrated among those with higher incomes in both regions. Self-assessed health and age tend to feature prominently for all behaviours in terms of contribution to inequality. Marital status and labour market status tend to play a less pronounced role. In terms of Northern Ireland/Republic of Ireland comparisons with respect to the decompositions, probably the biggest difference is to be observed in the greater role accorded to labour market status in the Republic. For the other factors, the orders of magnitude are reasonably similar. This suggests that in many cases it may be the same underlying factors which lie behind income related inequalities.

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    File URL: http://www.ucd.ie/t4cms/WP14_02.pdf
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by School Of Economics, University College Dublin in its series Working Papers with number 201402.

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    Length: 33 pages
    Date of creation: 18 Feb 2014
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:ucn:wpaper:201402

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    Keywords: inequality; health behaviours; older adults; Republic of Ireland; Northern Ireland;

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    References

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    1. Huisman, Martijn & Kunst, Anton E. & Mackenbach, Johan P., 2003. "Socioeconomic inequalities in morbidity among the elderly; a European overview," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 57(5), pages 861-873, September.
    2. Xander Koolman & Eddy van Doorslaer, 2004. "On the interpretation of a concentration index of inequality," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 13(7), pages 649-656.
    3. Erreygers, Guido, 2009. "Correcting the Concentration Index: A reply to Wagstaff," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 521-524, March.
    4. Erreygers, Guido, 2009. "Correcting the Concentration Index," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 504-515, March.
    5. Buhmann, Brigitte, et al, 1988. "Equivalence Scales, Well-Being, Inequality, and Poverty: Sensitivity Estimates across Ten Countries Using the Luxembourg Income Study (LIS) Database," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 34(2), pages 115-42, June.
    6. Cutler, David M. & Lleras-Muney, Adriana, 2010. "Understanding Differences in Health Behaviors by Education," Scholarly Articles 5344195, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    7. Kakwani, Nanak & Wagstaff, Adam & van Doorslaer, Eddy, 1997. "Socioeconomic inequalities in health: Measurement, computation, and statistical inference," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 77(1), pages 87-103, March.
    8. Dolan, Paul & Peasgood, Tessa & White, Mathew, 2008. "Do we really know what makes us happy A review of the economic literature on the factors associated with subjective well-being," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 94-122, February.
    9. Owen O'Donnell & Eddy van Doorslaer & Adam Wagstaff & Magnus Lindelow, 2008. "Analyzing Health Equity Using Household Survey Data : A Guide to Techniques and Their Implementation," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 6896, October.
    10. Adam Wagstaff, 2005. "The bounds of the concentration index when the variable of interest is binary, with an application to immunization inequality," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 14(4), pages 429-432.
    11. Cutler, David M. & Lleras-Muney, Adriana, 2010. "Understanding differences in health behaviors by education," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 1-28, January.
    12. Wagstaff, Adam & van Doorslaer, Eddy & Paci, Pierella, 1989. "Equity in the Finance and Delivery of Health Care: Some Tentative Cross-country Comparisons," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 5(1), pages 89-112, Spring.
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