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Income is More Protective Against Pain in More Equal Countries

Tang, C. K., Macchia, L. ORCID: 0000-0001-9558-4747 & Powdthavee, N. (2023). Income is More Protective Against Pain in More Equal Countries. Social Science and Medicine, 333, article number 116181. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2023.116181


It is empirically well-established that the rich suffer less pain on average than the poor. However, much less is known about the factors that moderate the size of the income gradient of pain. Using data from over 1 million adults from 127 countries worldwide, this article conducts a systematic test on whether income inequality moderates the pain gap between the rich and the poor. While pain is negatively associated with income in all but one country, there is strong evidence to suggest that an increase in income is much more protective against pain in countries where the income distribution is relatively more equal. The results are robust to using different measures of income inequality, removing outliers, and accounting for country and year fixed effects. We explain our results through the lens of income rank effects on health outcomes. Overall, our findings suggest that pain-reducing policies through income redistribution may need to take income inequality into consideration when evaluating their effectiveness.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons CC-BY license, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Publisher Keywords: Pain, Income, Income inequality, Protective factors, Income redistribution
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
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[thumbnail of Tang et al (2023).pdf] Text - Accepted Version
This document is not freely accessible due to copyright restrictions.
Available under License Creative Commons: Attribution International Public License 4.0.


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