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Income, Income Inequality, and Health: Evidence from China

  • Hongbin Li
  • Yi Zhu

This paper tests using survey data from China whether individual health is associated with income and community-level income inequality. Although poor health and high inequality are key features of many developing countries, most of the earlier literature has drawn on data from developed countries in studying the association between the two. We find that self-reported health status increases with per capita income, but at a decreasing rate. Controlling for per capita income, we find an inverted-U association between self-reported health status and income inequality, which suggests that high inequality in a community poses threats to health. We also find that high inequality increases the probability of health-compromising behavior such as smoking and alcohol consumption. Most of our findings are robust to different measures of health status and income inequality.

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Paper provided by Chinese University of Hong Kong, Department of Economics in its series Discussion Papers with number 00006.

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Date of creation: May 2004
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Handle: RePEc:chk:cuhkdc:00006
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  17. Deaton, Angus S & Paxson, Christina H, 1998. "Aging and Inequality in Income and Health," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(2), pages 248-53, May.
  18. Yitzhaki, Shlomo, 1979. "Relative Deprivation and the Gini Coefficient," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 93(2), pages 321-24, May.
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  21. Lin, Justin Yifu, 1992. "Rural Reforms and Agricultural Growth in China," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(1), pages 34-51, March.
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