Abstract Background The negative association between income inequality and health has been known in the literature as the Income Inequality Hypothesis (IIH). Despite the multiple studies examining the validity of this hypothesis, evidence is still inconclusive, and the debate remains unsolved. In addition, relatively few studies have focused their attention on developing or emerging economies, where levels of inequality tend to be the highest in the world. This work examines the statistical association between income inequality and self-rated health status in Colombia, a highly unequal Latin American country. Methods To explore whether this association is present in the general population or whether it is only confined to the bottom of the income distribution, we use data from the 2011–2019 National Quality of Life Survey. Multiple probit estimations are considered for testing the robustness of the IIH. Results Evidence favouring the IIH was found, even after controlling for individual income levels, average regional income, and socioeconomic characteristics. The link between income inequality and the probability of reporting poor health seems to be present across all income quintiles. However, the magnitude of such association is considerably smaller when using inequality measures with relatively greater sensitivity to income differences among the rich. Conclusions The association between regional income inequality and individual's self-rated health status in Colombia is not only confined to low-income individuals but extends across all socioeconomic strata. This association is robust to the income inequality measure implemented, the income-unit of analysis, and changes in the sample. It is suggested that reducing income disparities can potentially contribute to improving individual's health.
International Journal for Equity in Health
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