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COVID-19 and income inequality in OECD countries

John Wildman ()

The European Journal of Health Economics, 2021, vol. 22, issue 3, No 9, 455-462

Abstract: Abstract Objective To determine the association between income inequality and COVID-19 cases and deaths per million in OECD countries. Methods Cross-sectional regression methods are used to model the relationship between income inequality, as measured by the Gini coefficient, and COVID-19 reported cases and deaths per-million. Results The results demonstrate a significant positive association between income inequality and COVID-19 cases and death per million in all estimated models. A 1% increase in the Gini coefficient is associated with an approximately 4% increase in cases per-million and an approximately 5% increase in deaths per-million. Conclusions The results demonstrate that countries with high levels of income inequality have performed significantly worse when dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak in terms cases and deaths. Income inequality is a proxy for many elements of socioeconomic disadvantage that may contribute to the spread of, and deaths from, COVID-19. These include poor housing, smoking, obesity and pollution. Policy Implications The findings suggest the importance of closing the gap in income inequality and improving the health and incomes of the poorest and most vulnerable groups.

Keywords: COVID-19; Income inequality; OECD; Regression (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I10 I14 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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DOI: 10.1007/s10198-021-01266-4

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