Income Inequality Poses Worldwide Danger to Health

Effects not limited to affluent nations; strongest influence is on working age adults

THURSDAY, Oct. 25 (HealthDay News) -- Income inequality has a negative impact on health worldwide, not just in affluent nations, and appears to have its strongest influence on people of working age, according to study findings published online Oct. 22 in BMJ.

Danny Dorling, Ph.D., of the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom, and colleagues compiled population and mortality data on 126 nations representing 94.4 percent of the world's population. Wealth was calculated using the log of gross domestic product per capita, a well-known consistent measure of wealth. Inequality was measured with the United Nations Development Program's Gini coefficient.

In countries belonging to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, income was most influential on mortality between the ages of 15 and 29. Worldwide, the influence appeared strongest between the ages of 25 and 39. The latter result appeared to be influenced significantly by processes occurring in Africa, the report indicates. Income inequality exerted a slightly stronger influence on males than on females, but overall patterns were similar.

"Although the direct mechanisms that operate are likely to be different between different countries, there does not seem to be a beneficial impact of social inequality on health anywhere," the authors conclude.

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