The relationship of income inequality to mortality: Does the choice of indicator matter?
Ecologic studies in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world have demonstrated that income inequality is strongly related to mortality and life expectancy: the greater the dispersion of income within a given society, the lower the life expectancy. However, these empirical studies have been criticized on the grounds that the choice of indicator may have influenced positive findings. Using a cross-sectional, ecologic design, we tested the relationships of six different income inequality indicators to total mortality rates in the 50 U.S. states. The following summary measures of income distribution were examined: the Gini coefficient; the decile ratio; the proportions of total income earned by the bottom 50%, 60%, and 70% of households; the Robin Hood Index; the Atkinson Index; and Theil's entropy measure. All were highly correlated with each other (Pearson r >= 0.94), and all were strongly associated with mortality (Pearson r ranging from 0.50 to 0.66), even after adjustment for median income and poverty. Thus, the choice of income distribution measure does not appear to alter the conclusion that income inequality is linked to higher mortality. Furthermore, adjustment for taxes and transfers, as well as household size (using equivalence scales), made no difference to the income inequality/mortality association. From a policy perspective, the alternative income distribution measures perform differently under varying types of income transfers, so that theoretical considerations should guide the selection of an indicator to assess the impact of social and economic policies that address income inequality.
If 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.
As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.
Volume (Year): 45 (1997)
Issue (Month): 7 (October)
|Contact details of provider:|| Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/journaldescription.cws_home/315/description#description|
|Order Information:|| Postal: http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/supportfaq.cws_home/regional|
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:45:y:1997:i:7:p:1121-1127. 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: (Zhang, Lei)
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 references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link 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 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.