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Exploring the generalisability of the association between income inequality and self-assessed health

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  • Craig, Neil

Abstract

A growing between- and within-country literature suggests that the association between income inequality and health reflects individual- or area-level characteristics with which income inequality is associated, rather than the effects of income inequality per se. These studies also suggest that the association between income inequality and health is country-specific. Unresolved methodological issues include the geographical level at which to model the effects of income inequality, and the appropriate statistical methods to use. This study compares the results of single-level and multi-level logistic regression models estimating the association between income inequality and self-assessed health in local authorities in Scotland. The results suggest that there is a significant positive association between income inequality and health across local authorities in Scotland, even after adjusting for individual-level socio-economic status. They also suggest that there is significant local authority-level variation in self-assessed health, but this is small compared to the variation at the individual level. Income and other measures of individuals' socio-economic status are more strongly associated with self-assessed health than income inequality. This study provides further evidence that the income inequality:health association is place-specific. It also suggests that methodological choices regarding the ways of estimating the association between self-assessed health, individual-level socio-economic status and area-level income inequality may not make a substantive difference to the results when contextual effects are small. Further work is required to test the sensitivity of these conclusions to alternative levels of geographical aggregation.

Suggested Citation

  • Craig, Neil, 2005. "Exploring the generalisability of the association between income inequality and self-assessed health," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 60(11), pages 2477-2488, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:60:y:2005:i:11:p:2477-2488
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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. Kolarcik, Peter & Geckova, Andrea Madarasova & Orosova, Olga & van Dijk, Jitse P. & Reijneveld, Sijmen A., 2009. "To what extent does socioeconomic status explain differences in health between Roma and non-Roma adolescents in Slovakia?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 68(7), pages 1279-1284, April.
    3. Karlsdotter, Kristina & Martín Martín, José J. & López del Amo González, M. Puerto, 2012. "Multilevel analysis of income, income inequalities and health in Spain," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 74(7), pages 1099-1106.
    4. Chen, Zhuo & Meltzer, David, 2008. "Beefing up with the Chans: Evidence for the effects of relative income and income inequality on health from the China Health and Nutrition Survey," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 66(11), pages 2206-2217, June.
    5. Rostila, Mikael & Kölegård, Maria L. & Fritzell, Johan, 2012. "Income inequality and self-rated health in Stockholm, Sweden: A test of the ‘income inequality hypothesis’ on two levels of aggregation," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 74(7), pages 1091-1098.
    6. Lauri Peterson, 2014. "The Measurement of Non-economic Inequality in Well-Being Indices," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 119(2), pages 581-598, November.
    7. Sven Voigtländer & Verena Vogt & Andreas Mielck & Oliver Razum, 2014. "Explanatory models concerning the effects of small-area characteristics on individual health," International Journal of Public Health, Springer;Swiss School of Public Health (SSPH+), vol. 59(3), pages 427-438, June.
    8. Barnett, Ross & Pearce, Jamie & Moon, Graham, 2009. "Community inequality and smoking cessation in New Zealand, 1981-2006," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 68(5), pages 876-884, March.
    9. Salti, Nisreen, 2010. "Relative deprivation and mortality in South Africa," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 70(5), pages 720-728, March.
    10. Furnée, Carina A. & Pfann, Gerard A., 2010. "Individual vulnerability and the nurturing state: The case of self-reported health and relative income," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 71(1), pages 125-133, July.

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