National mortality rates: the impact of inequality?

Am J Public Health. 1992 Aug;82(8):1082-4. doi: 10.2105/ajph.82.8.1082.


Although health is closely associated with income differences within each country there is, at best, only a weak link between national mortality rates and average income among the developed countries. On the other hand, there is evidence of a strong relationship between national mortality rates and the scale of income differences within each society. These three elements are coherent if health is affected less by changes in absolute material standards across affluent populations than it is by relative income or the scale of income differences and the resulting sense of disadvantage within each society. Rather than socioeconomic mortality differentials representing a distribution around given national average mortality rates, it is likely that the degree of income inequality indicates the burden of relative deprivation on national mortality rates.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Income*
  • Internationality*
  • Mortality*
  • Poverty
  • Risk Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology