Example Of Term Paper On Reviews On The Effect Of Income Inequality To
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Health Population and Child Development
Various studies are being made to address various needs of individuals. Some choose to fight for equality while some for human rights. One of the most famous studies that is being done in rich countries involves the effect of income inequality in different aspects of human life (Mackenbach, 2002).
In 1992, the British Medical Journal (BMJ) published a report that showed that among the nine industrialized Western countries, there exist a strong negative correlation between inequality and life expectancy which translates less income to higher life expectancy. After their first release few more studies and reports followed discussing conventional studies on health inequalities, suggesting that income inequality does not just affect the ones below the line but rather the whole population, including the high-earning ones, thus inequality should be reduced. The studies that followed focused on the relationship of socioeconomic factors and health or contextual effects of inequality with findings varying from softer psychological pathways, such as feelings of deprivation, to materialistic pathway, such as under-investment in public resources, although the quality and interpretation of data are still being criticized and questioned by some. There were serious criticisms on the BMJ's selection of countries on its released paper in 1992. From nine countries with available data on income inequality in 1992, there are now 16 countries already which have the data. But then the association between income inequality and life expectancy is disappearing which reduces the evidence and scope of the study down to states of United States alone. Even within United States, the association is uncertain if it really reflects the desired result which is the contextual effect of the two variables in question. In higher or aggregate level, the result could be theoretically a representation of a curvilinear relation between the variables at an individual level (Mackenbach, 2002).
Upon BMJ’s review on the work of Oscar et al that presented the mortality in an area in Copenhagen using multilevel data, results showed that there was no association between income inequality and mortality after the adjustment of individual income. Oscar also suggested the Danish welfare state to even out the income inequality between areas to even out the difference in the effect in mortality. As for Muller, he explained the correlation between income inequality and mortality at the aggregate level in the United States by pointing out the difference in the average level of formal education between states. That's why one can argue that high income inequality can caused by low level of educational attainment (Mackenbach, 2002).
As for Shibuya et al, in their study conducted in Japan, it was reported that income inequalities have substantially increased in the past decade. But despite the increase, it was weakly associated with poor or self-rated health rating. Lastly, BMJ reviewed the work of Sturm and Gresen who looked at the effects of income inequality on self-reported chronic conditions and depressive and anxiety disorder as assessed by clinical screeners which again showed strong association to individual income. But even so, there are still no indications found to explain the effect of income equality to such.
Overall, in reference to the papers reviewed by BMJ, it showed that the evidence for a correlation between income inequality and the health of the population is slowly clearing out. As for any result of the same study outside United States, there's still very few (Mackenbach, 2002).
According to the review made by Smythe (2007), in Canada, findings showed that in 1993, the ratio of the income of the richest 10% to poor families is $10: $1, then by 2003, it became $13: $1. According to studies, children living in families with low income in Canada are more likely to experience poor infant health, health problem as a child such as asthma and obesity, frequent hospital ward visit and food insecurity. Families tend to eat less fruits and vegetables, relying upon food banks while living in unsafe substandard housing that has a significant long term effect on the child's learning. Several studies report that income plays a vital role in education outcomes, which is sensitive to depth, duration and timing of poverty.
Aside from the link of low income to education, it also emerged to be related to government care. Statistically-wise, data on rate and progress of the children were inconsistent and inadequate and according to some studies, children under government care are more likely to experience health problems, injury, death, and poor educational outcomes compared to those who are not (Smythe, 2007).
In a review made by Lynch, John et al., it says that the widely accepted hypothesis says that higher income means better health. But the relationship between income and health does not just revolve around poverty. When they reviewed the study made by Preston, it showed that the life expectancy in the 1900-190s exhibited a nonlinear relationship with the nation's per capita income but shifted upward during the 20th century which was attributed to exogenous factors such as strengthening of public health infrastructure rather than the income growth per se. It means to say that the same level of GDP purchased more infrastructures that how it was before (Lynch, et al. 2004)
Preston also suggested that the life expectancy progressively becomes dissociated with income due to the variation in income distribution, which he explained to be asymptotic at individual level. An example cited said that people with below average income lost more years in their lives compared to what higher than average earners gain. His study concluded that the distribution of income is clearly a likely source of variance in the basic relation between national life expectancy and average national income (Lynch et al., 2004).
The study concluded that among rich countries, such as United States, income inequality is not associated with public health differences as a general phenomenon, although there is a correlation between the two in regional/state level. It was suggested that even the modest increase in income through earning or cash transfer can have positive effect on the development of a child. As it was said in the review made by Smythe (2007), she quoted Phipps and Lethbridge who said that regardless of age or how income is being measured, higher family income is almost always associated with better child well-being. Their study did not point out what point in high income does the cognitive learning stops, it just showed that as income increases, child's learning also gets better. Although the effect of low income is very strong, it can be mediated by maternal mental health, family functioning and positive parenting behaviour. Thus it was suggested that social policy should sufficiently keep its pace with social change. A clear and official measure of accepted poverty should also be set to improve government's commitment in measuring and reducing child poverty and its long term effects.
Same kinds of studies were done in United Kingdom and it was reviewed by Rowlingson. If in the United States, income inequality and health problem is not a general phenomenon, it is the opposite in United Kingdom. As per the review suggests that there is indeed a correlation between the two variables, although it is still suggested that results should be tested to see its sensitivity to: different measures of social stratification; different measures of income inequality; variations in the countries selected; and the treatment of outliers. It showed that as the income gets higher, and so as the health status of the individual. However, there are still studies that investigate if it is the income equality itself that causes the health and social problems (Rowlingson, 2011).
In studies that features income inequality as the cause of health and social problems, most data seemed to be small in effect statistically. Most common explanation of inequalities effect to health is status anxiety. It was said that it is harmful because it places people in a competition for the hierarchy in social system causing stress that leads to other negative outcome. There are some research that say that income inequality could have a positive effect on the economy whilst evidence to support the claim is still weak and debatable (Rowlingson, 2011).
According to Macinko (2003), the results studies on the relationship of income inequality and heath are inconsistent. Most reports where done and based in United States, mostly correlating infant mortality to the issue. But even within United States, there are still variations on the result. One example is the creation of ranking or categorizing income inequality as to high, medium, or low, rather than giving numerical value.
After analyzing several studies, Macinko (2003) concluded that due to the lack of consistency in the study design, data used, measures constructed, conceptual models employed, and unit of analysis makes it difficult to draw a definitive conclusion about the relationship between income inequality and health. One result after another, these are being challenged instead of resolving things by analyzing the strength of different study designs.
As the issue has been running around the globe, various kinds of solution have been looked at by scientists and individuals. According to Jencks, if education is the problem, equalizing education cannot result in equalizing income at societal level. Assuming that education is significantly correlated to income at individual level and the income was tried to be equalized by equalizing education, if the same occupational structure will be kept, it will still not increase the income of people, but rather just decrease the relation of education to income. Taking the example given, college graduates can be taxi drivers, but it doesn't mean that taxi driver's salary will increase; it will only reduce the inequality between education and income. For income equality to be addressed, it was said that it should be faced by a complex set of process that includes restrictions of labor supply into different occupations by labor unions and professional associations. But even so, Jencks said that it can still have no effect to societal level (Coleman et al., 1973). Meaning to say, no matter how education level increase or income be equalized, it may still not have an effect to society level.
Coleman, J., Pettigrew, T. F., Sewell, W. H., Pullum T. W.(May, 1973). Inequality: A Reassessment of the Effect of Family and Schooling in America. American Journal of Sociology, Volume 78, Issue 6, 1523-1544.
Lynch J., Smith, G. D., Harper, S., Hillemeier M., Ross, N., Kaplan, G.A., Wolfson, M. (2004). Is Income Inquality a Determinant of Population Health? Part 1. A Systemic Review.
Macinko, J. A., Shi, L., Starfield, B., Wulu, J. T. Jr. (2003). Income Inequality and Health: A Critical Review of the Literature.
Mackenbach, Johan. (2002). Income inequality and population health: Evidence favouring a negative correlation between income inequality and life expectancy has disappeared. British Medical Journal.
Smythe, Suzanne. (2007). Child and youth development and income inequality: A review on selected literature. First Call BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition
Rowlingson, Karen. (2011). Does income inequality cause health and social problems? Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
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