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Physical Impairment and the Diminishing Effects of Income

John Mirowsky and Paul Nongzhuang Hu
Social Forces
Vol. 74, No. 3 (Mar., 1996), pp. 1073-1096
Published by: Oxford University Press
DOI: 10.2307/2580393
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2580393
Page Count: 24
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Physical Impairment and the Diminishing Effects of Income
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Abstract

The effect of income on physical impairment steepens at lower levels of income. Why? Two national surveys show the following. Basic needs: the level of impairment and its rate of increase rise sharply as household income drops below the 20th percentile; above that level greater income has little effect; economic hardship explains much of the pattern. Resource substitution: education reduces the association between impairment and low income, but low education often coincides with low income. Compounding problems: impairment suppresses the rise of income, concentrating economic and health problems over time. Status lifestyle: Exercise increases with income but explains little of the association with impairment. Social background: stable traits that affect both income and impairment account for about half of their association, with education the largest factor.

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