Decreasing Inequality in Mortality among American Children

In the previous blog we presented evidence of current life expectancies by income in the US, the neighbourhood effect of relative wealth, and the relative effect of relative wealth by income quartile. Life expectancy was strongly correlated with income. But this was life expectancy at age 40. A recent paper in Science [1] finds that, among children, mortality is improving faster among poor than rich households, especially in poor parts of the country. This is happening despite no reductions in income inequality over the observation period. The reasons are not clear, but there have been substantial public health programmes for children over the last 25 years, along with improved access to care in the US. These may be helping improve outcomes for poor children while marginal gains for richer children are becoming increasingly difficult to achieve.

— Richard Lilford, CLAHRC WM Director


  1. Currie J, Schwandt H. Inequality in mortality decreased among the young while increasing for older adults, 1990-2010. Science. 2016; 352(6286): 708-12.

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