Income inequality in quality of life among rural communities in Malaysia: a case for immediate policy consideration

Govindamal Thangiah, Mas Ayu Said, Hazreen Abdul Majid, Daniel Reidpath, Tin Tin Su

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    Quality of life (QOL) is a proxy of health and social well-being. Hence, it is vital to assess QOL as it informs the strategies of policymakers to enhance the living conditions in communities. Rural areas in emerging economies are underserved in terms of modern facilities and technologies, which impact QOL. To address this, this study investigated whether income played a role in the QOL of rural residents within emerging economies using a large survey of Malaysian adults above 18 years old. The study extracted data from a sample of 18,607 respondents of a health and demographic surveillance system survey. A generalized linear model was used to estimate the impact of three income groups, the bottom 40%, middle 40% and top 20%, on perceived QOL, controlling for sociodemographic, chronic disease co-morbidities and mental health status. Results of the study showed a statistically significant association between income and the physical, psychological, social and environmental QOL domains. Using the bottom 40% as a reference category, the middle 40% and top 20% income groups showed a significant and positive association across the four domains of QOL. Hence, intervention programs are necessary to escalate the income levels of rural communities, especially the bottom 40%, to uplift perceived QOL among rural residents.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number8731
    Number of pages19
    JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
    Issue number23
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


    • Income inequality
    • Malaysia
    • Quality of life
    • Rural areas
    • Social determinants of health

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