Skip to main page content
Access keys NCBI Homepage MyNCBI Homepage Main Content Main Navigation
. 2000 Jan;172(1):22-4.
doi: 10.1136/ewjm.172.1.22.

Relation Between Income Inequality and Mortality: Empirical Demonstration

Affiliations
Free PMC article

Relation Between Income Inequality and Mortality: Empirical Demonstration

M C Wolfson et al. West J Med. .
Free PMC article

Abstract

Objective To assess the extent to which observed associations between income inequality and mortality at population level are statistical artifacts. Design Indirect "what if" simulation using observed risks of mortality at individual level as a function of income to construct hypothetical state-level mortality specific for age and sex as if the statistical artifact argument were 100% correct. Method Data from the 1990 census for the 50 US states plus Washington, DC, were used for population distributions by age, sex, state, and income range; data disaggregated by age, sex, and state from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were used for mortality; and regressions from the national longitudinal mortality study were used for the individual-level relation between income and risk of mortality. Results Hypothetical mortality, although correlated with inequality (as implied by the logic of the statistical artifact argument), showed a weaker association with the level of income inequality in each state than the observed mortality. Conclusions The observed associations in the United States at the state level between income inequality and mortality cannot be entirely or substantially explained as statistical artifacts of an underlying individual-level relation between income and mortality. There remains an important association between income inequality and mortality at state level above anything that could be accounted for by any statistical artifact. This result reinforces the need to consider a broad range of factors, including the social milieu, as fundamental determinants of health.

Figures

Figure 1
Figure 1
Relative risk of dying and population distribution in the United States for individuals by household income ($)
Figure 2
Figure 2
Actual and hypothetical mortality for infants and working age men by income inequality. Lines are ordinary least squares regression fits through the actual and hypothetical data points

Comment in

Similar articles

See all similar articles

Cited by 6 articles

See all "Cited by" articles

LinkOut - more resources

Feedback