Date of Award
Open Access Thesis
Master of Public Health (MPH)
School of Public Health
Even though wealthier individuals have better health outcomes than their poorer counterparts surprisingly little research has attempted to demonstrate the link between wealth and health at the individual level. Instead, previous research into the wealth-health connection has primarily focused on analyzing the connection between annual income and health outcomes. However, analyzing income alone understates the full magnitude of socioeconomic disparities and their impact on health.
This study is a secondary analysis of responses from 2,442 respondents to waves 1 and 2 of the Perceptions of Economic Security Survey conducted through the American National Election Studies program. A created variable that approximates a given respondent’s wealth is used to demonstrate the effects of wealth on health outcomes and behaviors. This study models sociodemographic and health differences based on income, individuated wealth variables, and the composite wealth measure. It then analyzes health outcomes and behaviors by wealth level, controlling for income, to gauge the effect of non-income wealth measures on health.
Wealth, controlling for income, was very strongly and significantly associated with the continuity of health insurance coverage over the past year, whether a respondent had forgone medical care due to cost or uncertainty that their health insurance would cover their care, if a respondent had experienced unemployment in the past year, whether a respondent had lost a significant amount of time at work due to a serious injury or illness, and whether a respondent had ever been the victim of a violent crime as an adult. Other significant results associated with wealth outside of income include housing stability, insurance coverage throughout one’s adult life, and the likelihood that a respondent would experience unemployment during their adult life. These results highlight the need for policymakers to address inequality in a much broader sense, as income alone does not adequately predict the effect of one’s broader socioeconomic status on various health outcomes and behaviors.
Peterson, Emily Bunker, "Wealth Inequality And Health: Understanding Health Disparities Without A Wealth Of Knowledge" (2020). Public Health Theses. 1982.
This Article is Open Access