The relationship between income and health is one of the most explored topics in health economics but less is known about this relationship at different points of the health distribution. Analysis based solely on the mean may miss important information in other parts of the distribution. This is especially relevant when clinical concern is focused on the tail of the distribution and when evaluating the income gradient at different points of the distribution and decomposing income related inequalities in health is of interest. We use the unconditional quantile regression approach to analyse the income gradient across the entire distribution of objectively measured blood-based biomarkers. We apply an Oaxaca–Blinder decomposition at various quantiles of the biomarker distributions to analyse gender differentials in biomarkers and to measure the contribution of income (and other covariates) to these differentials. Using data from the Health Survey for England, we find a non-linear relationship between income and health and a strong gradient with respect to income at the highest quantiles of the biomarker distributions. We find that there is heterogeneity in the association of health to income across genders, which accounts for a substantial percentage of the gender differentials in observed health.
- unconditional quantile regression
- decomposition analysis
- health inequalities