What is the relationship between income inequality and health? Evidence from the BHPS
Income inequality hypotheses propose that income differentials and/or income distributions have a detrimental effect on health. This previously well accepted relationship between inequality and health has recently come under scrutiny; some claim that it is a statistical artefact, arguing that aggregate level data are not sophisticated enough to adequately test for (and discriminate between) their existence. Supporters argue that it is a question of estimating the relationship using, amongst other things, an appropriate geographical scale. This paper adds to the debate by estimating the relationship between income inequality and health using individual panel data, exploring the relationship at the regional as well as the national level, while attempting to discriminate between the competing hypotheses. Pooled, random and fixed effects ordered probit models are exploited to estimate the relationship between self-reported health and household income, income inequality and relative income. While the estimating regressions find support for the absolute income hypothesis, there is no support for the income inequality hypothesis or relative income hypothesis, and as such we argue that there is limited evidence of an effect of income inequality on health within Britain.
Originally 'Early View' Apr.2007; Web of Knowledge alert; not held in Res Lib - bibliographic reference only