Exploring the Inequality-Mortality Relationship in the US with Bayesian Spatial Modeling

Tse Chuan Yang, Leif Jensen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


While there is evidence to suggest that socioeconomic inequality within places is associated with mortality rates among people living within them, the empirical connection between the two remains unsettled as potential confounders associated with racial and social structure are overlooked. This study seeks to test this relationship, to determine whether it is due to differential levels of deprivation and social capital, and does so with intrinsically conditional autoregressive Bayesian spatial modeling that effectively addresses the bias introduced by spatial dependence. We find that deprivation and social capital partly but do not completely account for why inequality is positively associated with mortality and that spatial modeling generates more accurate predictions than does the traditional approach. We advance the literature by unveiling the intervening roles of social capital and deprivation in the inequality-mortality relationship and offering new evidence that inequality matters in US county mortality rates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6
Pages (from-to)437-460
Number of pages24
JournalPopulation Research and Policy Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 22 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Bayesian spatial modeling
  • Conditional autoregressive modeling
  • Deprivation
  • Inequality
  • Inequality
  • Mortality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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