The Effects of Income Inequality on Health Disparities

Awarded Scholars:
Christopher Jencks, Harvard University
Project Date:
Sep 2016
Award Amount:

Co-funded with the Washington Center for Equitable Growth

A large literature shows that countries with greater income inequality tend to have worse average health and that groups of lower socioeconomic status (SES) have worse health and die younger than higher-SES groups. However, research on the consequences of income inequality and research on the size of SES disparities in health have rarely overlapped. Little is known about the relationship between income inequality and health disparities between rich and poor, especially in the United States.

Sociologist Christopher Jencks will explore the causal effects of income inequality on health and the mechanisms by which inequality may affect health. He will address three questions: Do states with higher income inequality have larger health disparities? Do states with larger increases (or smaller declines) in income inequality also have larger increases in health disparities? If so, what explains these empirical relationships?


RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences is a peer-reviewed, open-access journal of original empirical research articles by both established and emerging scholars.


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