IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Polarization And Health


  • Cristina Blanco Pérez
  • Xavier Ramos


This paper examines the effect of income polarization on individual health. We argue that polarization captures much better the social tension and conflict that underlie some of the pathways linking income disparities and individual health, and which have been traditionally proxied by inequality. We test our premises with panel data for Spain. Results show that polarization has a detrimental effect on health. We also find that the way the relevant population subgroups are defined is important: polarization is only significant if measured between education-age groups for each region. Regional polarization is not significant. Our results are obtained conditional on a comprehensive set of controls, including absolute and relative income. Copyright 2009 The Authors. Journal compilation International Association for Research in Income and Wealth 2009.

Suggested Citation

  • Cristina Blanco Pérez & Xavier Ramos, 2010. "Polarization And Health," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 56(1), pages 171-185, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:revinw:v:56:y:2010:i:1:p:171-185

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: link to full text
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version below or search for a different version of it.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Shorrocks, A F, 1980. "The Class of Additively Decomposable Inequality Measures," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(3), pages 613-625, April.
    2. Angus Deaton, 2003. "Health, Inequality, and Economic Development," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 41(1), pages 113-158, March.
    3. Andrew E. Clark & Paul Frijters & Michael A. Shields, 2008. "Relative Income, Happiness, and Utility: An Explanation for the Easterlin Paradox and Other Puzzles," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 46(1), pages 95-144, March.
    4. Andrew E. Clark, 2003. "Unemployment as a Social Norm: Psychological Evidence from Panel Data," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(2), pages 289-322, April.
    5. Wang, You-Qiang & Tsui, Kai-Yuen, 2000. " Polarization Orderings and New Classes of Polarization Indices," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 2(3), pages 349-363.
    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. Alberto Alesina & Eliana La Ferrara, 2000. "Participation in Heterogeneous Communities," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(3), pages 847-904.
    8. Stephen Knack & Philip Keefer, 1997. "Does Social Capital Have an Economic Payoff? A Cross-Country Investigation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1251-1288.
    9. Miller, Douglas L. & Paxson, Christina, 2006. "Relative income, race, and mortality," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(5), pages 979-1003, September.
    10. Frank A. Cowell, 1980. "On the Structure of Additive Inequality Measures," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 47(3), pages 521-531.
    11. Esteban, Joan & Ray, Debraj, 1994. "On the Measurement of Polarization," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(4), pages 819-851, July.
    12. Frank A. Cowell & Maria-Pia Victoria-Feser, 2002. "Welfare Rankings in the Presence of Contaminated Data," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(3), pages 1221-1233, May.
    13. Wolfson, Michael C, 1994. "When Inequalities Diverge," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(2), pages 353-358, May.
    14. Branko Milanovic, 2003. "The median voter hypothesis, income inequality and income," HEW 0305001, EconWPA.
    15. repec:aph:ajpbhl:1997:87:9:1491-1498_6 is not listed on IDEAS
    16. Edward L. Glaeser & David Laibson & Bruce Sacerdote, 2002. "An Economic Approach to Social Capital," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(483), pages 437-458, November.
    17. Meltzer, Allan H & Richard, Scott F, 1981. "A Rational Theory of the Size of Government," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 914-927, October.
    18. Alberto Alesina & Reza Baqir & William Easterly, 1999. "Public Goods and Ethnic Divisions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(4), pages 1243-1284.
    19. Frijters, Paul & Haisken-DeNew, John P. & Shields, Michael A., 2005. "The causal effect of income on health: Evidence from German reunification," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(5), pages 997-1017, September.
    20. Allan Meltzer & Scott Richard, 1983. "Tests of a rational theory of the size of government," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 41(3), pages 403-418, January.
    21. Franco Sassi & Jeremy Hurst, 2008. "The Prevention of Lifestyle-Related Chronic Diseases: an Economic Framework," OECD Health Working Papers 32, OECD Publishing.
    22. Gary Chamberlain, 1980. "Analysis of Covariance with Qualitative Data," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 47(1), pages 225-238.
    23. Lindert, Peter H., 1996. "What Limits Social Spending?," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 1-34, January.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Mario Holzner, 2012. "The Determinants of Income Polarization on the Household and Country Level across the EU," wiiw Working Papers 93, The Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies, wiiw.
    2. Ada Ferrer-i-carbonell & X. Ramos & M. Oviedo, 2013. "GINI Country Report: Growing Inequalities and their Impacts in Spain," GINI Country Reports spain, AIAS, Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Labour Studies.
    3. Wang, Chen & Wan, Guanghua, 2015. "Income polarization in China: Trends and changes," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 58-72.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:bla:revinw:v:56:y:2010:i:1:p:171-185. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Wiley-Blackwell Digital Licensing) or (Christopher F. Baum). General contact details of provider: .

    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 CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc 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 RePEc Author Service 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.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.