New Evidence on the Relationship between Inequality and Health

59 Pages Posted: 21 May 2018

See all articles by Jaesang Sung

Jaesang Sung

Georgia State University - Andrew Young School of Policy Studies - Department of Economics

Qihua Qiu

Georgia State University - Department of Economics

James Marton

Georgia State University - Andrew Young School - Department of Economics

Date Written: May 6, 2018

Abstract

The relative income hypothesis suggests that an individual’s health is impacted by the income of others. However, prior studies suffer from mixed empirical findings that could be due to a lack of annual individual income data with sufficient sample size. We apply a new methodology to calculate a variety of income inequality measures based on aggregate income and household size data from various Federal data sources. Our proposed methodology provides a way to express various income inequality measures as a function of the ratio of mean to median household income under the assumption that individual income is log-Normally distributed. This approach produces a variety of precise annual income inequality measures at different levels of geography, thus solving the sample size problem by incorporating externally calculated inequality measures. Combining the 2001-2012 editions of the U.S. Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System with annual regional income inequality measures derived from our methodology enables us to estimate both the contemporaneous and the lagged effect of income inequality on individual health outcomes. In general, we find statistically significant evidence supporting the income inequality hypothesis and the relative deprivation hypothesis, which suggests that greater income inequality adversely affects health status in the United States.

Keywords: health, income inequality, Gini index, Atkinson index, Theil index, relative deprivation

JEL Classification: I10, I14, I32, D63, C02, C60

Suggested Citation

Sung, Jaesang and Qiu, Qihua and Marton, James, New Evidence on the Relationship between Inequality and Health (May 6, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3174453 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3174453

Jaesang Sung (Contact Author)

Georgia State University - Andrew Young School of Policy Studies - Department of Economics ( email )

14 Marietta St
Atlanta, GA
United States

Qihua Qiu

Georgia State University - Department of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 3992
Atlanta, GA 30302-3992
United States

James Marton

Georgia State University - Andrew Young School - Department of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 3992
Atlanta, GA 30302-3992
United States

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
37
Abstract Views
261
PlumX Metrics