Income Inequality and Individual Health: Exploring the Association in a Developing Country

32 Pages Posted: 29 Apr 2012

See all articles by Andreas Bergh

Andreas Bergh

Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN); Lund University - Department of Economics

Therese Nilsson

Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN); Lund University - Department of Economics

Date Written: April 27, 2012

Abstract

We use individual and multi-level data from Zambia on child nutritional health to test the absolute income hypothesis (AIH), the relative income hypothesis (RIH) and the income inequality hypothesis (IIH). The results confirm a non-linear positive relation between economic resources and health, confirming the AIH. For the RIH we find sensitivity to what reference group is used. Most interestingly, while the IIH predicts that income inequality, independent from individual income, will affect health negatively, we find higher income inequality to robustly associate with better child health. The results suggest that the relationship between inequality and health in developing contexts might be very different from the predominant view in the existing literature mainly based on developed countries, and that alternative mechanisms might mediate the relationship in poor countries.

Keywords: Inequality, health, poverty

JEL Classification: O10, D63, I12

Suggested Citation

Bergh, Andreas and Nilsson, Therese, Income Inequality and Individual Health: Exploring the Association in a Developing Country (April 27, 2012). IFN Working Paper No. 899, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2047015 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2047015

Andreas Bergh (Contact Author)

Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN) ( email )

Box 55665
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Stockholm, SE-102 15
Sweden
0707790734 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.ifn.se/web/AndreasB

Lund University - Department of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7082
S-220 07
Lund
Sweden

HOME PAGE: http://www.nek.lu.se/

Therese Nilsson

Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN) ( email )

Box 55665
Grevgatan 34, 2nd floor
Stockholm, SE-102 15
Sweden

Lund University - Department of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7082
S-220 07 Lund
Sweden
+46 46 222 46 43 (Phone)

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