Risk of disability rises in states with income inequality

November 13, 2007

A massive survey conducted by researchers at the University of Toronto reveals Americans living in states with high rates of income inequality are significantly more likely to have a disability that limits the completion of daily tasks such as dressing, bathing and mobility at home.

“We’ve always known personal income and education can affect one’s health outcomes,” says Esme Fuller-Thomson, study co-author and assistant professor of social work at the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work at U of T. “What we didn’t know until now was the substantial strength of the relationship between state-level income inequality and disability. This research shows that individuals have a higher likelihood of physical disability when they live in states where wealth is distributed very unevenly.”

Fuller-Thomson and Tahany Gadalla, study co-author and assistant professor of social work at the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work at U of T, looked at information collected from 645,000 Americans through the 2003 American Community Survey. Their study findings are published this month in the British journal Public Health.

Other key findings, which can be read online at www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/00333506> (under Articles in Press) include:

-- In states with greater inequality, the rich were also at a health disadvantage. Both rich and poor people living in states with unequal wealth distribution were more likely to have high-level disabilities than their counterparts living in states where income is distributed more equally.

-- Living in a state with unequal wealth distribution is nearly as much of a risk factor as gender in predicting certain disabilities. Overall, Americans living in states with high income inequality were 11 per cent more likely to have a disability than those living in states where wealth is more widely distributed.

-- New York, Arizona and the District of Columbia were the three regions with the highest levels of income inequality.

Source: University of Toronto

Explore further: New report examines implications of growing gap in life span by income for entitlement programs

Related Stories

Taking action for social change

September 23, 2015

What it means to be poor or vulnerable in today's society is not as obvious as it was a decade ago. The vocabulary of poverty in low income countries, traditionally expressed in 'one dollar a day' terms, no longer conveys ...

Grass-cutters, mushrooms and giant land snails, oh my!

September 11, 2015

When UCLA hosted the Special Olympic World Games this summer, a positive message of inclusion and acceptance was amplified. But unfortunately for many people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in other parts ...

Digital divides persist in New Zealand

September 28, 2015

Digital technologies have become critical for people to participate in education, work, health provision, social services, tax services and commercial activities. Yet some groups of our population have limited or no access ...

Climate change negatively affects birth weight, study finds

September 29, 2015

From melting glaciers to increasing wildfires, the consequences of climate change and strategies to mitigate such consequences are often a hotly debated topic. A new study led by the University of Utah adds to the ever-growing ...

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.