The shape of the relationship between income and mortality in the United States. Evidence from the National Longitudinal Mortality Study

Ann Epidemiol. 1996 Jan;6(1):12-20; discussion 21-2. doi: 10.1016/1047-2797(95)00090-9.


A follow-up study based on a large national sample was used to examine differences in the well-established inverse gradient between income and mortality at different income levels. The study showed the income-mortality gradient to be much smaller at high income levels than at low to moderate income levels in the working age (25 to 64 years) and elderly (over 65 years) populations for men and women both before and after adjustment for other socioeconomic variables. In addition, a much larger gradient existed for working age women at extreme poverty levels than for those women at low to moderate income levels. The income-mortality gradient was much smaller in the elderly than in the working age population. The study also examined the ability of several different mathematic functions of income to delineate the relationship between income and mortality. The study suggested that the health benefits associated with increased income diminish as income increases.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Income*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mortality*
  • Poverty / statistics & numerical data
  • Sex Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United States / epidemiology