The Fund supports several networks of state health policymakers to help identify, inspire, and inform policy leaders.
The Fund identifies and shares policy ideas and analysis on topics important to state health policymakers, particularly on issues related to state leadership, primary care, aging, and total costs of care.
Keep up with news and updates from the Milbank Memorial Fund. And read the latest blogs from our thought leaders, including Fund President Christopher F. Koller.
The Fund publishes The Milbank Quarterly, as well as reports, issues briefs, and case studies on topics important to health policy leaders.
The Milbank Memorial Fund is an endowed operating foundation that publishes The Milbank Quarterly, commissions projects, and convenes state health policy decision makers on issues they identify as important to population health.
Back to The Milbank Quarterly
Context: The existence of a positive relationship between income and morbidity has been well documented in the literature. But it is unclear whether the relationship is positive because increased income allows individuals to purchase more health inputs that improve their health, because healthy individuals are more productive and thus can earn higher wages in the labor market, or because a third factor is improving health and increasing income. This article explores whether increases in income improve the health of the low-income population. Methods: Because health status may affect income, this article uses an “instrumental variable” strategy that considers income variations over seventeen years of changes in the generosity of state and federal Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC, a measure that should be exogenous to health status). I measured health status using both the self-reported health status and the functional limitations indicated on the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP), as well as the self-reported health status indicated on the March Current Population Survey (CPS). Findings: I found only limited support for the theory that the relationship between income and morbidity is derived from shifts in income. Although I did observe a correlation between income and self-reported health, I found no evidence that increases in income significantly improve self-reported health statuses. In addition, while increases in income appear to reduce the prevalence of hearing limitations when using corrective measures, these increases did not have a significant effect on most of the other functional limitations considered here. Conclusions: These findings suggest that the ability to improve short-term health outcomes through public transfer payments may be limited. However, the lifetime effects on the health of people with higher incomes would still be a valuable avenue for future research.
Author(s): Jeff Larrimore
Keywords: health status; low-income population; income-health gradient; EITC
Read on Wiley Online Library
Read on JSTOR
Volume 89, Issue 4 (pages 694–727) DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-0009.2011.00647.x Published in 2011
Get the Latest from the Milbank Memorial Fund
The Milbank Quarterly’s multidisciplinary approach and commitment to applying the best empirical research to practical policymaking offers in-depth assessments of the social, economic, historical, legal, and ethical dimensions of health and health care policy.