Is Income Inequality a Determinant of Population Health? Part 2. U.S. National and Regional Trends in Income Inequality and Age- and Cause-Specific Mortality


Address correspondence to: John Lynch, Center for Social Epidemiology and Population Health, University of Michigan, 1214 South University Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48104-2548 (e-mail:


This article describes U.S. income inequality and 100-year national and 30-year regional trends in age- and cause-specific mortality. There is little congruence between national trends in income inequality and age- or cause-specific mortality except perhaps for suicide and homicide. The variable trends in some causes of mortality may be associated regionally with income inequality. However, between 1978 and 2000 those regions experiencing the largest increases in income inequality had the largest declines in mortality (r= 0.81, p < 0.001). Understanding the social determinants of population health requires appreciating how broad indicators of social and economic conditions are related, at different times and places, to the levels and social distribution of major risk factors for particular health outcomes.