The results suggest a modest adverse effect of income inequality on health, although the population impact might be larger if the association is truly causal. The results also support the threshold effect hypothesis, which posits the existence of a threshold of income inequality beyond which adverse impacts on health begin to emerge.
The US has clearly passed that threshold. Most of the extra mortality occurs in the US, the country with the widest income gap. How much of an impact?
Of the deaths the new BMJ study ties to inequality, almost 900,000 came in the United States.
Too Much last week asked a leading U.S. epidemiologist, Dr. Stephen Bezruchka of the University of Washington School of the Public Health, to place that calculation in perspective.
“We can say,” he noted, “that one in four deaths can be attributed to our high rates of income inequality.”