WIDER Discussion Papers, World Institute for Development Economics (UNU-WIDER) 2006/07
This paper tests using survey data from China whether individual health is associated with income and community-level income inequality. Although poor health and high inequality are key features of many developing countries, most of the earlier literature has drawn on data from developed countries in studying the association between the two. We find that self-reported health status increases with per capita income, but at a decreasing rate. Controlling for per capita income, we find an inverted-U association between self-reported health status and income inequality, which suggests that high inequality in a community poses threats to health. We also find that high inequality increases the probability of health-compromising behavior such as smoking and alcohol consumption. Most of our findings are robust to different measures of health status and income inequality.