A new approach to measure socioeconomic inequality in health

Zheng, Buhong
December 2011
Journal of Economic Inequality;Dec2011, Vol. 9 Issue 4, p555
Academic Journal
This paper introduces a new approach to rank and measure socioeconomic inequality in health. A novel feature of the approach is the use of an income-health matrix that relates socioeconomic class with health status; each row of the matrix corresponds to a socioeconomic class and contains the respective probability distribution of health. By invoking a monotone assumption on the income-health matrix, which is a direct translation of the well-known hypothesis of social gradients in health outcomes, we derive a set of welfare-dominance and inequality-dominance conditions for ranking health distributions. Unlike other existing health inequality measures, our conditions require no cardinal specification of ordinal heath data and, hence, are robust. We then apply the dominance conditions to compare socioeconomic health inequality in the US and Canada using the newly released JCUSH data.


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