Inequalities of Income and Inequalities of Longevity: A Cross-Country Study

Eric Neumayer, Thomas Plümper

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articlepeer-review


Objectives: We examined the effects of market income inequality (income inequality before taxes and transfers) and income redistribution via taxes and transfers on inequality in longevity. Methods: We used life tables to compute Gini coefficients of longevity inequality for all individuals and for individuals who survived to at least 10 years of age. We regressed longevity inequality on market income inequality and income redistribution, and we controlled for potential confounders, in a cross-sectional time-series sample of up to 28 predominantly Western developed countries and up to 37 years (1974-2011). Results: Income inequality before taxes and transfers was positively associated with inequality in the number of years lived; income redistribution (the difference between market income inequality and income inequality after taxes and transfers were accounted for) was negatively associated with longevity inequality. Conclusions. To the extent that our estimated effects derived from observational data are causal, governments can reduce longevity inequality not only via public health policies, but also via their influence on market income inequality and the redistribution of incomes from the relatively rich to the relatively poor.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)160 - 165
JournalAmerican Journal of Public Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Cite this