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Milbank Q. 1998;76(3):315-39, 303-4.

Macro-to-micro links in the relation between income inequality and mortality.

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Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, USA.


A growing literature points to links between income inequality and mortality. Any examination of the link should distinguish, both theoretically and empirically, between shifts in inequality that result from changes in the bottom and top of the income distribution. When state-level data from the U.S. censuses of 1980 and 1990 were used to measure differences in mortality, the results indicated that inequality measures reflecting depth of poverty show stronger correlations with mortality than do inequality measures reflecting heights of affluence. In addition, longitudinal data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics were used to related state-level inequality measures to individual-level data on mortality. This comparison revealed significant associations between degree of income inequality in state of residence and individual risk of death only for nonelderly individuals with middle-class incomes in 1990.

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