Exploring the inequality-mortality relationship in the US with Bayesian spatial modeling (Yang and Jensen 2015)


Research questions: 1) Is the relationship between socioeconomic inequality and place due to different levels of deprivation and social capital? 2) Does income inequality threaten population health?
Purpose: To test the relationship between socioeconomic inequality and place.
Hypotheses: 1) Without any other independent covariates, inequality is positively related to mortality 2) Including control variables into the analysis will not fully explain the inequality-mortality relationship 3) After controlling for deprivation, social capital, and other variables in the analysis, inequality is not associated with mortality.
Data: United States County level data from U.S. Census Bureau and the 2003-2007 Compressed Mortality Files (CMF) by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS)
Main findings:
• There was a positive and significant association between income inequality and mortality that was partially explained by racial composition, SES scores, and metropolitan status
• The inequality-mortality association increased (by over 20%) when controlling for social capital and deprivation which impacted mortality in the expected direction
• The Gini coefficient remained a significant correlate of mortality.
• Deprivation and social capital partly but do not completely account for why inequality is positively associated with mortality
• Spatial modeling generates more accurate predictions than does the traditional approach.
1. What are some mechanisms that can be utilized to reduce the relationship between income inequality and mortality?
2. How would you devise a system that better informs how we view place and its role in explaining population?
3. What other frameworks would you suggest to better explain place and mortality?


About Gemma B.

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