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Relative deprivation and mortality in South Africa

Listed author(s):
  • Salti, Nisreen

This paper tests the relative income hypothesis by considering the relationship between mortality, income and relative deprivation in South Africa using individual-level data on income and five measures of relative deprivation each with a different reference group. We find that income tends to be protective of, and relative deprivation detrimental to health, but the latter often gives a better account of mortality than does income alone. For some population groups the fit is improved in specifications which include both income and relative deprivation. Overall, there seems to be solid evidence in support of the relative income hypothesis, particularly for the more economically disadvantaged population groups. Relative deprivation is especially significant when age is the reference group, suggesting that the comparison of socio-economic standing that has an impact on health tends to happen within cohorts. The results are robust to splitting the sample into urban/rural subsamples and to looking at the incidence of illness as the health outcome rather than mortality. While little is known about the mechanisms underlying the effect of relative deprivation on health and mortality, the consistent evidence in favor of age as a reference group, particularly in a context like South Africa's suggests that intra-cohort comparisons should be an avenue for more in depth investigation.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Social Science & Medicine.

Volume (Year): 70 (2010)
Issue (Month): 5 (March)
Pages: 720-728

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Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:70:y:2010:i:5:p:720-728
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  1. Ulf-G. Gerdtham & Magnus Johannesson, 2004. "Absolute Income, Relative Income, Income Inequality, and Mortality," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(1).
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Angus Deaton, 2001. "Relative deprivation, inequality, and mortality," Working Papers 275, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Health and Wellbeing..
  5. Christine Eibner & William N. Evans, 2005. "Relative Deprivation, Poor Health Habits, and Mortality," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 40(3).
  6. Kawachi, Ichiro & Kennedy, Bruce P. & Wilkinson, Richard G., 1999. "Crime: social disorganization and relative deprivation," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 48(6), pages 719-731, March.
  7. Alberto Alesina & Reza Baqir & William Easterly, 1997. "Public Goods and Ethnic Divisions," NBER Working Papers 6009, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. repec:pri:cheawb:deaton_relative_deprivation.pdf is not listed on IDEAS
  9. Kondo, Naoki & Kawachi, Ichiro & Subramanian, S.V. & Takeda, Yasuhisa & Yamagata, Zentaro, 2008. "Do social comparisons explain the association between income inequality and health?: Relative deprivation and perceived health among male and female Japanese individuals," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 67(6), pages 982-987, September.
  10. Jones, Andrew M. & Wildman, John, 2008. "Health, income and relative deprivation: Evidence from the BHPS," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 308-324, March.
  11. 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.
  12. Hou, Feng & Myles, John, 2005. "Neighbourhood inequality, neighbourhood affluence and population health," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 60(7), pages 1557-1569, April.
  13. Shlomo Yitzhaki, 1979. "Relative Deprivation and the Gini Coefficient," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 93(2), pages 321-324.
  14. Larrea, Carlos & Kawachi, Ichiro, 2005. "Does economic inequality affect child malnutrition? The case of Ecuador," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 60(1), pages 165-178, January.
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