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

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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.
Questions:
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?

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About Gemma B.

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