Researching income and income distribution as determinants of health in Canada: gaps between theoretical knowledge, research practice, and policy implementation

Health Policy. 2005 May;72(2):217-32. doi: 10.1016/j.healthpol.2004.08.001.


The research identified gaps in Canadian knowledge and research activity concerning the roles that income and its distribution play in Canadians' population health. 241 Canadian research studies on income and health were considered along eight taxonomies: conceptualization of income or its proxies; theoretical underpinnings; income distribution measures; health measures; who/what was studied, pathways mediating between income and health; complexity of these pathways; research design; and presence of policy implications. The study identified the following areas of weakness: (a) poor conceptualization of income and the means by which it influences health; (b) lack of longitudinal studies of the impact of income-related issues upon health across the life-span; (c) lack of linked data bases that allow complex analyses of how income and related issues contribute to health and well-being, and (d) little inter-disciplinary work in identifying pathways mediating the income and health relationship. Advances in health policy to address the health effects of income and its distribution requires a research infrastructure that draws upon recent theoretical developments in the area and is able to access data sources to test these advanced conceptualizations.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Status Indicators*
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Income*
  • National Health Programs
  • Policy Making*
  • Research*