Objective. The article corrects for two main shortcomings in conventional economic analyses of environmental change. First is the overemphasis placed on income growth, and general disregard for other socioeconomic factors. Second is economists' often oversimplified view of the environment, where distinctions between environmental necessities such as potable water and so-called environmental luxuries are ignored. I test for the effectiveness of power inequality in explaining access to sanitation and safe water as well as their health consequences.
Methods. I develop a two-stage model seeking first to explain changes in the environmental variables and then population health. I employ ordinary least squares regressions on international cross-sectional data.
Results. Some dimensions of power inequality outperform per-capita income as possible determinants of population health. Neither power inequality nor income is clearly superior at explaining environmental quality. Conclusion. The study casts further doubt on the importance of per-capita income in explaining environmental and health outcomes.