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Economic inequality and social differentials in mortality


  • Arline T. Geronimus


This paper was presented at the conference "Unequal incomes, unequal outcomes? Economic inequality and measures of well-being" as part of session 1, "Health status of children and households in poverty." The conference was held at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York on May 7, 1999. This paper discusses health as a direct measure of economic well-being and draws attention to those suffering the worst outcomes. The author identifies a set of young people at particular risk of high mortality rates. She observes that in some U.S. communities - especially urban areas in the North - young people cannot expect to survive through middle-adulthood. Whites generally fare substantially better than African-Americans, yet whites in poor neighborhoods in northern cities experience mortality rates roughly comparable to those of African-Americans nationwide. Furthermore, among the urban African-American poor, mortality rates worsened relative to those of whites from 1980 to 1990. The author also indicates that circulatory disease - not homicide - has been the most important contributor to the higher mortality rates across all poor populations.

Suggested Citation

  • Arline T. Geronimus, 1999. "Economic inequality and social differentials in mortality," Economic Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, issue Sep, pages 23-36.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fednep:y:1999:i:sep:p:23-36:n:v.5no.3

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. John Bound & Michael Schoenbaum & Timothy Waidmann, 1996. "Race Differences in Labor Force Attachment and Disability Status," NBER Working Papers 5536, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. repec:aph:ajpbhl:1995:85:7:949-956_1 is not listed on IDEAS
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    Cited by:

    1. Helje Kaldaru & Kaie Kerem & Andres Vırk, 2004. "Health as Factor of Economic Growth: the Estonian Case," Working Papers 110, Tallinn School of Economics and Business Administration, Tallinn University of Technology.

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    Income distribution ; Medical care;


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