Inequality, wealth and health

Is decreasing income inequality the key to create healthier societies?

I.A. Pop, E.J. van Ingen, W.J.H. van Oorschot

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

The idea that the level of stratification of societies contributes to the well-being of their members is gaining popularity. We contribute to this debate by investigating whether reducing inequalities in the income distribution of societies is a strategy for improving population health, especially appropriate for those countries that have reached the limits of economic growth. We test this idea on a dataset covering 140 countries and 2360 country-year observation between 1987 and 2008 and formulate hypotheses separately for countries with different level of economic development. We indeed found that countries with higher levels of income inequality also have lower levels of life expectancy (our measure of population health), and this result was consistent both in cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses. However, the relationship was found only among low- and middle-developed countries. In the group of high-developed countries, the relationship between income inequality and life expectancy was non-significant, which contradicts the literature. Expectations on the relationship between a country’s wealth and health were confirmed: economic growth does contribute to improving population health, but this effect is weaker in more economically developed countries. These results imply that a decrease in a country’s income inequality parallel with an increase in its wealth can help to improve health in economically lesser-developed countries, but not in high-developed countries.
Keywords: Income inequality, Health, Wealth, Economic development
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1025-1043
JournalSocial Indicators Research
Volume113
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Fingerprint

Developed Countries
income
health
society
life expectancy
Life Expectancy
economic growth
difference in income
income distribution
popularity
economics
Wealth Inequality
Income
Health
Cross-Sectional Studies
well-being
Observation
Wealth
Group
Economic Growth

Cite this

@article{5c137dae7e1b4b4b80c315dbf476e7c0,
title = "Inequality, wealth and health: Is decreasing income inequality the key to create healthier societies?",
abstract = "The idea that the level of stratification of societies contributes to the well-being of their members is gaining popularity. We contribute to this debate by investigating whether reducing inequalities in the income distribution of societies is a strategy for improving population health, especially appropriate for those countries that have reached the limits of economic growth. We test this idea on a dataset covering 140 countries and 2360 country-year observation between 1987 and 2008 and formulate hypotheses separately for countries with different level of economic development. We indeed found that countries with higher levels of income inequality also have lower levels of life expectancy (our measure of population health), and this result was consistent both in cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses. However, the relationship was found only among low- and middle-developed countries. In the group of high-developed countries, the relationship between income inequality and life expectancy was non-significant, which contradicts the literature. Expectations on the relationship between a country’s wealth and health were confirmed: economic growth does contribute to improving population health, but this effect is weaker in more economically developed countries. These results imply that a decrease in a country’s income inequality parallel with an increase in its wealth can help to improve health in economically lesser-developed countries, but not in high-developed countries.Keywords: Income inequality, Health, Wealth, Economic development",
author = "I.A. Pop and {van Ingen}, E.J. and {van Oorschot}, W.J.H.",
year = "2013",
doi = "10.1007/s11205-012-0125-6",
language = "English",
volume = "113",
pages = "1025--1043",
journal = "Social Indicators Research",
issn = "0303-8300",
publisher = "Springer",
number = "3",

}

Inequality, wealth and health : Is decreasing income inequality the key to create healthier societies? / Pop, I.A.; van Ingen, E.J.; van Oorschot, W.J.H.

In: Social Indicators Research, Vol. 113, No. 3, 2013, p. 1025-1043.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - Inequality, wealth and health

T2 - Is decreasing income inequality the key to create healthier societies?

AU - Pop, I.A.

AU - van Ingen, E.J.

AU - van Oorschot, W.J.H.

PY - 2013

Y1 - 2013

N2 - The idea that the level of stratification of societies contributes to the well-being of their members is gaining popularity. We contribute to this debate by investigating whether reducing inequalities in the income distribution of societies is a strategy for improving population health, especially appropriate for those countries that have reached the limits of economic growth. We test this idea on a dataset covering 140 countries and 2360 country-year observation between 1987 and 2008 and formulate hypotheses separately for countries with different level of economic development. We indeed found that countries with higher levels of income inequality also have lower levels of life expectancy (our measure of population health), and this result was consistent both in cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses. However, the relationship was found only among low- and middle-developed countries. In the group of high-developed countries, the relationship between income inequality and life expectancy was non-significant, which contradicts the literature. Expectations on the relationship between a country’s wealth and health were confirmed: economic growth does contribute to improving population health, but this effect is weaker in more economically developed countries. These results imply that a decrease in a country’s income inequality parallel with an increase in its wealth can help to improve health in economically lesser-developed countries, but not in high-developed countries.Keywords: Income inequality, Health, Wealth, Economic development

AB - The idea that the level of stratification of societies contributes to the well-being of their members is gaining popularity. We contribute to this debate by investigating whether reducing inequalities in the income distribution of societies is a strategy for improving population health, especially appropriate for those countries that have reached the limits of economic growth. We test this idea on a dataset covering 140 countries and 2360 country-year observation between 1987 and 2008 and formulate hypotheses separately for countries with different level of economic development. We indeed found that countries with higher levels of income inequality also have lower levels of life expectancy (our measure of population health), and this result was consistent both in cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses. However, the relationship was found only among low- and middle-developed countries. In the group of high-developed countries, the relationship between income inequality and life expectancy was non-significant, which contradicts the literature. Expectations on the relationship between a country’s wealth and health were confirmed: economic growth does contribute to improving population health, but this effect is weaker in more economically developed countries. These results imply that a decrease in a country’s income inequality parallel with an increase in its wealth can help to improve health in economically lesser-developed countries, but not in high-developed countries.Keywords: Income inequality, Health, Wealth, Economic development

U2 - 10.1007/s11205-012-0125-6

DO - 10.1007/s11205-012-0125-6

M3 - Article

VL - 113

SP - 1025

EP - 1043

JO - Social Indicators Research

JF - Social Indicators Research

SN - 0303-8300

IS - 3

ER -