Is the Relationship between Income Inequality and Population Health Robust? Evidence from a Multilevel Analysis

Yaqiang Qi, University of California, Los Angeles

In recent decades, there have been increasing concerns on the relationship between income inequality and population health. Ecological studies show that, provided other things equal, population health is negatively associated with unequal distribution of national income. Various pathways have been proposed through which income inequality harms population health: Relative deprivation is an important source of chronic stress; societal hierarchy disrupts social cohesion and social trust, and increases crime and violence; social disruption, crime and violence has spillover effects. On the contrary, it is suggested that the observed ecological correlation between income inequality and population health is spurious and just reflects a nonlinear effect of individual income on health. A multilevel framework that includes both aggregate level and individual level data is necessary for detecting the “true” effect of income inequality on population health. I will use data from World Values Survey and multilevel methodology to test these hypotheses.

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Presented in Poster Session 5