Trends in the association between average income, poverty and income inequality and life expectancy in Spain

Soc Sci Med. 2003 Mar;56(5):961-71. doi: 10.1016/s0277-9536(02)00107-7.


In this paper, we study the relation between life expectancy and both average income and measures of income inequality in 1980 and 1990, using the 17 Spanish regions as units of analysis. Average income was measured as average total income per household. The indicators of income inequality used were three measures of relative poverty-the percentage of households with total income less than 25%, 40% and 50% of the average total household income-the Gini index and the Atkinson indices with parameters alpha=1, 1.5 and 2. Pearson and partial correlation coefficients were used to evaluate the association between average income and measures of income inequality and life expectancy. None of the correlation coefficients for the association between life expectancy and average household income was significant for men. The association between life expectancy and average household income in women, adjusted for any of the measures of income inequality, was significant in 1980, although this association decreased or disappeared in 1990 after adjusting for measures of poverty. In both men and women, the partial correlation coefficients between life expectancy and the measures of relative income adjusted for average income were positive in 1980 and negative in 1990, although none of them was significant. The results with regard to women confirm the hypothesis that life expectancy in the developed countries has become more dissociated from average income level and more associated with income inequality. The absence of a relation in men in 1990 may be due to the large impact of premature mortality from AIDS in regions with the highest average total income per household and/or smallest income inequality.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Income / classification
  • Income / statistics & numerical data*
  • Life Expectancy*
  • Male
  • Poverty / statistics & numerical data*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Spain / epidemiology