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Inequality and Health: Is Housing Crowding the Link?

  • Sholeh A. Maani

    ()

    (The University of Auckland)

  • Rhema Vaithianathan

    ()

    (The University of Auckland)

  • Barbara Wolfe

    ()

    (The University of Wisconsin)

In this study we extend the literature (e.g. Deaton, 2002a; Kennedy and Kawachi, 1996; Wilkinson, 1996) by proposing a new mechanism through which income inequality can influence health. We argue that increased income inequality induces household crowding, which in turn leads to increased rates of infectious diseases. We use data from New Zealand that links hospital discharge rates with community-level characteristics to explore this hypothesis. Our results provide support for a differential effect of income inequality and housing crowding on rates of hospital admissions for infectious diseases among children. Importantly, we find that genetic and non-communicable diseases do not show these joint crowding and inequality effects. The effect of housing on communicable diseases provides a biological foundation for an income inequality gradient.

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Paper provided by Motu Economic and Public Policy Research in its series Working Papers with number 06_09.

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Length: 33 pages
Date of creation: Dec 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mtu:wpaper:06_09
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  1. Janna L. Matlack & Jacob L. Vigdor, 2006. "Do Rising Tides Lift All Prices? Income Inequality and Housing Affordability," NBER Working Papers 12331, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Anne Case & Darren Lubotsky & Christina Paxson, 2002. "Economic status and health in childhood: the origins of the gradient," Working Papers 262, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Health and Wellbeing..
  3. Cutler, David M & Glaeser, Edward L, 1997. "Are Ghettos Good or Bad?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(3), pages 827-72, August.
  4. Des O'Dea, 2000. "The Changes in New Zealand's Income Distribution," Treasury Working Paper Series 00/13, New Zealand Treasury.
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