• Open Access

Income-related health inequalities in working age men and women in Australia and New Zealand


Correspondence to: Dr Kristie Carter, University of Otago – Public Health, PO Box 7343, Wellington 6242, New Zealand; e-mail: kristie.carter@otago.ac.nz


Objective : To examine income-related inequalities in health in working age men and women in Australia and New Zealand.

Methods : We used data from two longitudinal surveys, Wave 8 (2008) of the Household Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey and Wave 7 (2008/2009) of the New Zealand Survey of Family Income and Employment (SoFIE). We compared concentration indices (a measure of income-related health inequality) that examined the distribution of general and mental health-related quality of life scores (from the SF-36) across income in working age (20–65 year old) men and women. Decomposition analyses of the concentration indices were done to identify the relative contribution of various determinants to the income-related health inequality.

Results : General health (GH) scores generally decline with age, and mental health (MH) scores increase with age, in both surveys. Income-related health inequalities were present in both the HILDA and SoFIE samples, with better health in high income groups. Decomposition analyses found that income, area deprivation and being inactive in the labour force were major contributors to income-related health inequality, in both surveys, and for both health outcomes.

Conclusions and implications : Despite some baseline differences in income-related health inequalities using Australian and New Zealand surveys, we found similar modifiable determinants, which could be targeted to improve health inequalities in both countries.