Title

Dying from envy: The role of inequality

Author First name, Last name, Institution

Irakli Japaridze, Université McGill
Nagham Sayour, Zayed University

ORCID Identifiers

0000-0002-9352-1782

Document Type

Article

Source of Publication

Health Economics (United Kingdom)

Publication Date

1-1-2021

Abstract

We hypothesize that when interpersonal comparisons, often referred to as “keeping up with the Joneses”, are operational, relative deprivation (income inequality) results in increased likelihood of morbidity among lower income households. Using a simple theoretical model, we show that the larger the income disparities between “the Joneses” and “the followers”, the higher is the followers' expenditure on conspicuous consumption and the lower is their expenditure on health. We empirically test our hypotheses using Canadian data from the Canadian Community Health Survey and the Survey of Household Spending and US data from the National Health Interview Survey. We find that, in peer groups defined by geographic proximity of residence or similar socio-economic background, larger income disparities are associated with higher spending by the followers on conspicuous consumption, lower health expenditure, worse self-reported health and younger age at death.

ISSN

1057-9230

Publisher

Wiley

Disciplines

Business

Keywords

health, income inequality, longevity, peer effects, relative consumption

Scopus ID

85103402620

Indexed in Scopus

yes

Open Access

no

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