We use Cross-National Equivalent File (CNEF) data from the United States and Great Britain to investigate the association between adults’ health and the income inequality they experienced as children up to 80 years earlier. Our inequality data track shares of national income held by top income percentiles from the early 20th century. We average those data over the same early-life years and merge them to CNEF data from both countries that measure self-reported health of individuals between 1991 and 2007. Observationally, adult men and women in the United States and Great Britain less often report being in better health if inequality was higher in their first five years of life. Although the trend in inequality is similar in both countries over the past century, the empirical association between health and inequality in the United States differs substantially from the estimated relationship in Great Britain. When we control for demographic characteristics, measures of permanent income, and early-life socio-economic status, the health–inequality association remains robust only in the U.S. sample. For the British sample, the added controls drive the coefficient on inequality toward zero and statistical insignificance.
Burkhauser, R.V., Hahn, M.H., Lillard, D.R. and Wilkins, R. (2016), "Does Income Inequality in Early Childhood Predict Self-Reported Health in Adulthood? A Cross-National Comparison of the United States and Great Britain
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