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Relative Income, Race, and Mortality

  • Douglas Miller

    (University of California at Berkeley)

  • Christina Paxson

    (Princeton University)

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 (1995) and Elo and Preston (1996), and the review in Adler (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.

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Paper provided by Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Health and Wellbeing. in its series Working Papers with number 269.

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Date of creation: Jul 2001
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:pri:cheawb:relativeincome
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  1. 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.
  2. Jennifer Mellor & Jeffrey Milyo, 1998. "Income Inequality and Health Status in the United States: Evidence From the Current Population Survey," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 9815, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
  3. Deaton, A., 2001. "Health, Inequality, and Economic Development," Papers 200, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Development Studies.
  4. Angus Deaton & Christina Paxson, 1999. "Mortality, Education, Income, and Inequality among American Cohorts," NBER Working Papers 7140, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Alberto Alesina & Reza Baqir & William Easterly, 1997. "Public Goods and Ethnic Divisions," NBER Working Papers 6009, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. 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.
  7. Jeffrey R. Kling & Jeffrey B. Liebman & Lawrence F. Katz & Lisa Sanbonmatsu, 2004. "Moving To Opportunity And Tranquility: Neighborhood Effects On Adult Economic Self-Sufficiency And Health From A Randomized Housing Voucher Experiment," Working Papers 247, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Health and Wellbeing..
  8. Jonathan Skinner & Douglas Staiger, 2005. "Technology adoption from hybrid corn to beta blockers," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  9. Amitabh Chandra & Jonathan Skinner, 2003. "Geography and Racial Health Disparities," NBER Working Papers 9513, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. 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).
  11. Jennifer M. Mellor & Jeffrey D. Milyo, 2001. "Income inequality and health," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 20(1), pages 151-155.
  12. Lawrence Katz & Jeffrey R. Kling & B. Jeffrey Liebman & Lisa Sanbonmatsu, 2004. "Moving to Opportunity and Tranquility: Neighborhood Effects on Adult Economic Self-Sufficiency and Health From a Randomized Housing Voucher Experiment," Working Papers 860, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  13. Elo, Irma T. & Preston, Samuel H., 1996. "Educational differentials in mortality: United States, 1979-1985," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 47-57, January.
  14. Christine Eibner & William N. Evans, 2005. "Relative Deprivation, Poor Health Habits, and Mortality," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 40(3).
  15. Michael Ash & T. Robert Fetter, 2004. "Who Lives on the Wrong Side of the Environmental Tracks? Evidence from the EPA's Risk-Screening Environmental Indicators Model," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 85(2), pages 441-462.
  16. Powell, James L. & Stoker, Thomas M., 1985. "The estimation of complete aggregation structures," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 30(1-2), pages 317-344.
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