Economic Inequalities in Latin America at the Base of Adverse Health Indicators

Int J Health Serv. 2016 Jul;46(3):501-22. doi: 10.1177/0020731416653428. Epub 2016 Jun 10.


There is increasing evidence supporting the existence of a link between income inequalities and health outcomes. The main purpose of this article is to test whether economic inequalities are associated with poor population health in Latin American countries. Multi-country data from 1970 to 2012 were used to assess this question. The results show that the Gini coefficient has a strong correlation with health outcomes. Moreover, multiple linear regression analysis using fixed effects shows that after controlling for gross national income per capita, literacy rate, and health expenditure, the Gini coefficient is independently negatively associated with health outcomes. In Latin American countries, for every percentage point increase in the Gini coefficient, the infant mortality rate grows by 0.467 deaths per 1,000 live births, holding all other variables constant. Additionally, an ordinary least squares estimation model suggests that countries that do not use International Monetary Fund loans perform better on health outcomes. These findings should alert policymakers, elected officials, and the public of the need to fight income inequalities and rethink the role of international financial institutions that dictate state policies.

Keywords: Gini; Latin America; health; income inequalities; infant mortality; international monetary fund.

MeSH terms

  • Gross Domestic Product
  • Health Status Indicators
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Mortality
  • Latin America / epidemiology
  • Poverty*
  • Public Health*
  • Socioeconomic Factors*