Long-term effects of wealth on mortality and self-rated health status

Am J Epidemiol. 2011 Jan 15;173(2):192-200. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwq348. Epub 2010 Nov 8.


Epidemiologic studies seldom include wealth as a component of socioeconomic status. The authors investigated the associations between wealth and 2 broad outcome measures: mortality and self-rated general health status. Data from the longitudinal Panel Study of Income Dynamics, collected in a US population between 1984 and 2005, were used to fit marginal structural models and to estimate relative and absolute measures of effect. Wealth was specified as a 6-category variable: those with ≤0 wealth and quintiles of positive wealth. There were a 16%-44% higher risk and 6-18 excess cases of poor/fair health (per 1,000 persons) among the less wealthy relative to the wealthiest quintile. Less wealthy men, women, and whites had higher risk of poor/fair health relative to their wealthy counterparts. The overall wealth-mortality association revealed a 62% increased risk and 4 excess deaths (per 1,000 persons) among the least wealthy. Less wealthy women had between a 24% and a 90% higher risk of death, and the least wealthy men had 6 excess deaths compared with the wealthiest quintile. Overall, there was a strong inverse association between wealth and poor health status and between wealth and mortality.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Statistical*
  • Mortality*
  • Socioeconomic Factors*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult