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Social inequality and ethnic differences in smoking in New Zealand


  • Barnett, Ross
  • Moon, Graham
  • Kearns, Robin


This study tests a generalisation of the 'Wilkinson' thesis that the greater a nation's income inequality, the poorer the average national health status. We consider the effect of socio-economic inequality upon ethnic variations in smoking in New Zealand. Analysis of Maori and Pakeha (New Zealanders of European descent) smoking rates from the 1996 Census is conducted for 73 Territorial Local Authority areas in New Zealand, disaggregated by gender and rural-urban location. Partial correlation is used to control for absolute levels of deprivation and examine the independent effect of ethnic social inequality upon smoking rates. The level of social inequality between Maori and Pakeha has an independent effect on Maori smoking rates. Pakeha smoking rates by contrast are more sensitive to variations in absolute rather than relative deprivation. The effect of inequality is greatest for Maori women, especially among urban residents. By contrast, among Maori men the effects are greatest in rural areas. The results provide some qualified support for the Wilkinson thesis and suggest that policies which address fundamental issues of social inequality will play a small, but significant, role in helping to reduce high smoking rates amongst Maori.

Suggested Citation

  • Barnett, Ross & Moon, Graham & Kearns, Robin, 2004. "Social inequality and ethnic differences in smoking in New Zealand," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 59(1), pages 129-143, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:59:y:2004:i:1:p:129-143

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    Cited by:

    1. Enrico Ivaldi, 2016. "Material and social deprivation in Italy: an analysis on a regional basis," Eastern European Business and Economics Journal, Eastern European Business and Economics Studies Centre, vol. 2(3), pages 248-268.
    2. Franzini, Luisa & Caughy, Margaret & Spears, William & Eugenia Fernandez Esquer, Maria, 2005. "Neighborhood economic conditions, social processes, and self-rated health in low-income neighborhoods in Texas: A multilevel latent variables model," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 61(6), pages 1135-1150, September.
    3. Barnett, Ross & Pearce, Jamie & Moon, Graham, 2005. "Does social inequality matter? Changing ethnic socio-economic disparities and Maori smoking in New Zealand, 1981-1996," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 60(7), pages 1515-1526, April.
    4. Di Novi, Cinzia & Jacobs, Rowena & Migheli, Matteo, 2018. "Smoking Inequality across Genders and Socio-economic Classes. Evidence from Longitudinal Italian Data," Department of Economics and Statistics Cognetti de Martiis. Working Papers 201802, University of Turin.
    5. Adjaye-Gbewonyo, Kafui & Kawachi, Ichiro, 2012. "Use of the Yitzhaki Index as a test of relative deprivation for health outcomes: A review of recent literature," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 75(1), pages 129-137.
    6. Poeran, Jashvant & Maas, Arno F.G. & Birnie, Erwin & Denktas, Semiha & Steegers, Eric A.P. & Bonsel, Gouke J., 2013. "Social deprivation and adverse perinatal outcomes among Western and non-Western pregnant women in a Dutch urban population," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 83(C), pages 42-49.
    7. Blakely, Tony & Tobias, Martin & Robson, Bridget & Ajwani, Shilpi & Bonné, Martin & Woodward, Alistair, 2005. "Widening ethnic mortality disparities in New Zealand 1981-99," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 61(10), pages 2233-2251, November.
    8. repec:vuw:vuwcpf:3497 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. repec:rss:jnljee:v5i3p1 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Cinzi Di Novi & Rowena Jacobs & Matteo Migheli, 2018. "Smoking Inequality across Genders and Socio-economic Classes. Evidence from Longitudinal Italian Data," DEM Working Papers Series 152, University of Pavia, Department of Economics and Management.


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