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Government health policies often do not succeed as planned, possibly due to income inequality. Its importance is often overlooked when searching for the causes of poor health and when developing strategies to improve the health of Americans. This research uses an advanced statistical technique to study the relationship between income inequality, racial/ethnic, and rural/urban disparities in health for counties in Illinois. Primary care physician to population ratios were also controlled in three-stage least squares econometric models. Mortality data were used as the health measure. Simultaneity between certain variables was accounted for: something not previously studied. Income inequality in the Illinois counties significantly affected mortality: greater inequality yielding greater mortality. Primary care doctors to population had no significant effect on mortality. Higher percent smokers increased mortality. Medicare payments per number of persons 65 years or greater significantly reduced mortality. Per capita government payments had a similar significant effect. Predicting primary care physicians to total population yielded no simultaneity effects from mortality. Medicare and total government payments results indicate that certain aspects of the Illinois/Federal health system are working well. Our Gini income inequality variable shows that higher income inequality increases mortality, something not often found at a lower level of aggregation. Controlling for simultaneity and primary care doctors to population did not eliminate the income inequality effect on mortality. Policy recommendations are that our government should address the findings of this and other studies, and increase the health of our disadvantaged citizens by lessening the level of inequality in our country.

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International Journal of Global Health and Health Disparities





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©2009 International Journal of Global Health and Health Disparities



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