Income Inequality and Later Life Health: Estimating Life Course Treatment Effects

Dean R. Lillard , The Ohio State University

I propose mechanisms through which exposure to income inequality early in life might be functionally related to later-life health. The model builds on theory and empirical evidence that suggests that inequality experienced in critical parts of life might matter. The empirical implementation of this approach demands much data. I the required data. I use Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) data. The PSID is a longitudinal survey that follows individuals up to 49 years. I construct and map to individual PSID respondents measures of income inequality experienced every year over each person's whole lifetime. I examine the correlation between outcomes and lifetime exposure to inequality and to inequality experienced during theoretically critical periods. Finally, I examine the extent to which income inequality proxies for systematic cross state differences in other determinants of health. Early life income inequality matters – but not always in the way a casual observer might guess.


 Presented in Session 156. Environmental Factors Associated With Health and Mortality