Objectives: This study assessed whether documented effects of income inequality on health are consistent across demographic subgroups of the US population.
Methods: Data from the National Health Interview Survey on White and Black non-Hispanics were used. Logistic regression models were estimated with SUDAAN software. Perceived health was the outcome variable.
Results: The results of the multivariate analysis, in which individual family income and county-level poverty rates were included, were not consistent with existing research. In the presence of covariates, the conditional effects of inequality were restricted to Whites aged 18-44 years in the 2 highest income inequality quartiles and middle-aged Whites in counties with the highest level of income inequality. The health of Blacks of all ages, elderly Whites, and middle-aged Whites outside of the areas of highest inequality was unaffected when controls for individual characteristics and county-level poverty were in place.
Conclusions: For the United States, the independent and direct contribution of income inequality to the determination of self-perceived health net of individual income and county income levels is restricted to certain demographic groups.