Here’s a question I’m wrestling with: at what level of aggregation do we expect an inequality-stress-health link to operate? That is, typically researchers focus on the level of a country. In that model, would inequality within a state/territory be more or less important than across the nation as a whole? What about districts? Counties?
As I discussed earlier, few papers exploring that link have been able to distinguish between a stress effect of inequality and simply taking money away from the poor. The topic has remained on my mind, especially in light of an excellent poster by Stephen Matthews and two coauthors that I saw at PAA. They don’t currently control for individual income but their results are consistent with the story of diminishing returns to healthcare that I emphasized, and I think they have the data to look at the stress effect directly for the US.
For my own part, I’ve come across a few datasets that might let me look at inequality and health, controlling for individual income, at the level of, say, districts in India – but I’m not sure that’s an interesting question. My instinct tells me it is: that seeing my rich neighbor bothers me more than knowing that people in Atherton, CA, are positively loaded when I live way out in Michigan.
I’m hoping my cobloggers or dedicated readers can provide opinions in the comments or via email.