The effect of income inequality on the health of selected US demographic groups

Am J Public Health. 2000 Dec;90(12):1892-7. doi: 10.2105/ajph.90.12.1892.


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.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • African Americans / statistics & numerical data*
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Community Health Planning
  • Demography
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Health Status Indicators
  • Health Status*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Income / statistics & numerical data*
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mortality
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Poverty / statistics & numerical data*
  • Sex Distribution
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Whites / statistics & numerical data*