Measuring inequalities in health in the presence of multiple-category morbidity indicators

Health Econ. 1994 Jul-Aug;3(4):281-9. doi: 10.1002/hec.4730030409.


This paper considers the problems which arise in seeking to measure socioeconomic inequalities in health when the health indicator is a categorical variable, such as self-assessed health. It shows that the standard approach--which involves dichotomizing the categorical variable--is unreliable. The degree of measured inequality is found to depend on the cut-off point chosen and the choice of cut-off point to affect the conclusions one can reach about trends in or differences in health inequality. The paper goes on to propose an alternative approach which involves constructing a latent health variable and then measuring inequalities in this latent variable by means of a variant of the health concentration curve.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Demography
  • Health Care Rationing
  • Health Services Research
  • Health Status Indicators*
  • Humans
  • Income
  • Logistic Models
  • Morbidity*
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Netherlands
  • Social Class
  • Socioeconomic Factors