Does Income Distribution Matter? A Multilevel Analysis of Income Inequality and Self-Rated Status of Health in Brazil
Iuri C. Leite, Escola Nacional de Saúde Pública (FIOCRUZ)
The relationship between socioeconomic status (at the individual or population level) and health is well established. The general pattern is one by which persons or populations of higher socioeconomic status generally have better health. However, it has been suggested that health is affected not only by the absolute level of income, but also by degree to which income is equitably distributed within a population. In this paper, I evaluated the effect of income inequality measured by the Gini Index on the self-rated status of health using information from a Brazilian national survey. Our results showed that the Gini index, measured at the state level, did not appear as an important predictor of self-rated heath after being controlled by a set of sociodemographic factors, particularly, individual income and education. However, at the metropolitan areas the Gini index showed a statistically significant effect on individual health (OR: 1,29; 95% C.I.: 1.04 – 1.60).