Income Inequality, Population Aging and Health, 1990-2010

Ryan Finnigan, Duke University

Despite a number of studies providing evidence for a significant negative relationship between income inequality and health, the overall robustness and nature of the relationship remain unclear. Meanwhile, this literature has yet to consider population aging as a potentially salient factor also related to health. This study tests the Income Inequality Hypothesis, and the influence of population aging, among US metropolitan areas using multiple time points. Multilevel and fixed effects regression analyze the 1990 and 2000 %5 Census samples, the 2010 American Community Survey (ACS), and the 1999-2001 and 2009-2011 Current Population Surveys (CPS). Results yield mixed evidence for a significant relationship between income inequality and local disability rates, and an interactive effect with population aging. There is little evidence for any significant relationship to self-rated health. The conclusions emphasize the importance of considering multiple geographic scales and time points to test the Income Inequality Hypothesis more rigorously.

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Presented in Session 12: Economic Impacts of Population Aging