Because more equal societies work better for everyone

Do people die from income inequality of a decade ago?

30 November 2012

Over the next few months we will be blogging about recently published research related to inequality and health and social outcomes. Here are the key points of a longer summary which can be found as a research update on our resources page. Please pass it on to friends and colleagues who may be interested and stay tuned for forthcoming updates.

  • New research from the field of social epidemiology suggests that income inequality has a long-term negative impact on individual mortality risk. Income inequality exerts an influence on mortality rates five years later. This influence peaks at seven years and fades after 12 years.
  • The study uses a different data structure and statistical model to existing studies on the impact of income inequality on population health. In doing so it overcomes limitations inherent to the design of existing studies and is able to provide a more accurate picture of the long-term effects of income inequality on individual mortality.
  • The author suggests that, although it is difficult to “theoretically justify” why the effects of income inequality on health outcomes start at five years later, peak at seven and decline after 12, this may be due both to the time it takes for the mediating mechanisms at play to take effect on an individual's health and the latency period between exposure to risk factors and the development of a health condition in an individual.