Explaining the difference in income-related health inequalities among the elderly in European countries using SHARE-data – A cross-country comparison

University essay from Lunds universitet/Nationalekonomiska institutionen

Abstract: This study provide insights into the sources of differences in the degree of income-related inequalities in self-assessed health in 10 European countries using data on an older population (aged 50 and above) from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE, 2004). The aim of this study is to compare the inequalities of this older population with a younger population used in van Doorslaer & Koolman (2004). The aim is also to look into the contributors of the measured degree of income-related health inequality. Therefore, this study replicates the methods used in van Doorslaer & Koolman (2004) as much as possible, i.e. measuring health by using an interval regression, cardinalisation of the health variable using the same cut-off points and decomposing the measured degree of income-related inequalities in health into its contributions. Significant income-related inequalities in health favouring the higher income-groups emerge in all countries except Austria. Although, the income inequality is only significant for three countries, suggesting that other factors beside income are more relevant to explain the measured degree of income-related health inequalities. This is confirmed by the decomposition procedure which shows that factors such as higher education, retirement and economic inactive are the major contributors behind the total income-related health inequality. This study also finds that, in general, health inequalities for the older population is higher compared to the younger population in van Doorslaer & Koolman (2004) but that the difference is maybe less than one would expect. Possible explanations to this could be differences in reference group, selective survivorship or the fact that institutionalised individuals are not among the target population in the SHARE survey.

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