Peripherality, income inequality, and life expectancy: Revisiting the income inequality hypothesis

Spencer Moore*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Recent criticisms of the income inequality and health hypothesis have stressed the lack of consistent significant evidence for the stronger effects of income inequality among rich countries. Despite such criticisms, little attention has been devoted to the income-based criteria underlying the stratification of countries into rich/poor groups and whether trade patterns and world-system role provide an alternative means of stratifying groups. Methods: To compare income-bas ed and trade-based criteria, 107 countries were grouped into four typologies: (I) high/low income, (II) OECD membership/non-membership, (III) core/non-core, and (IV) non-periphery/periphery. Each typology was tested separately for significant differences in the effects of income inequality between groups. Separate group comparison tests and regression analyses were conducted for each typology using Rodgers (1979) specification of income, income inequality, and life expectancy. Interaction terms were introduced into Rodgers specification to test whether group classification moderated the effects of income inequality on health. Results: Results show that the effects of income inequality are stronger in the periphery than non-periphery (IV) (-0.76 vs -0.23; P < 0.05). An incremental F- test confirmed significant differences in the coefficient subsets between the two groups (F2,101 = 6.31; P < 0.01). Conclusions: Cross-national analyses of income inequality and population health have assumed (i) income differences between countries best capture global stratification and (ii) the negative effects of income inequality are stronger in high-income countries. However, present findings emphasize (i) the importance of measuring global stratification according to trading patterns and (ii) the strong, negative effects of income inequality on life expectancy among peripheral populations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)623-632
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Epidemiology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Global health
  • Income inequality
  • Life expectancy
  • Trade


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