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Relative Income, Race, and Mortality

Author

Listed:
  • Douglas Miller

    (University of California at Berkeley)

  • Christina Paxson

    (Princeton University)

Abstract

The topic of this paper is the relationship between relative income and health. We examine whether people whose incomes are high relative to others who live in the same geographic area have lower or higher mortality. This analysis holds own income fixed, so the question is not only whether own income matters for health, but also whether the incomes of others affects health given own income. It is well-established that wealthier individuals are healthier and live longer (see Sorlie et.al. (1995) and Elo and Preston (1996), and the review in Adler et.al. (1994)). The proposition that relative income affects health is more controversial. Although there are reasons why there could be health benefits from having wealthier neighbors, a growing body of literature argues that low relative income is a health hazard. This proposition runs counter to the Pareto principle and, if correct, could have very unorthodox implications for economic policy.

Suggested Citation

  • Douglas Miller & Christina Paxson, 2001. "Relative Income, Race, and Mortality," Working Papers 269, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Health and Wellbeing..
  • Handle: RePEc:pri:cheawb:13
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    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. Soobader, Mah-Jabeen & LeClere, Felicia B., 1999. "Aggregation and the measurement of income inequality: effects on morbidity," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 48(6), pages 733-744, March.
    3. Angus Deaton, 2003. "Health, Inequality, and Economic Development," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 41(1), pages 113-158, March.
    4. Angus S. Deaton & Christina Paxson, 2001. "Mortality, Education, Income, and Inequality among American Cohorts," NBER Chapters,in: Themes in the Economics of Aging, pages 129-170 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Powell, James L. & Stoker, Thomas M., 1985. "The estimation of complete aggregation structures," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 30(1-2), pages 317-344.
    6. Deaton, Angus & Lubotsky, Darren, 2003. "Mortality, inequality and race in American cities and states," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 56(6), pages 1139-1153, March.
    7. Christine Eibner & William N. Evans, 2005. "Relative Deprivation, Poor Health Habits, and Mortality," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 40(3).
    8. Jonathan Skinner & Douglas Staiger, 2007. "Technology Adoption from Hybrid Corn to Beta-Blockers," NBER Chapters,in: Hard-to-Measure Goods and Services: Essays in Honor of Zvi Griliches, pages 545-570 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    13. 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.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination

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