Poverty and Inequality in Mortality: Individual Behavior, Societal Solutions

Award Year:
Harriet Duleep
Poverty and Health
Dr. Duleep seeks greater understanding of how low socioeconomic status affects mortality in the U.S. Her overarching hypothesis is that poverty impacts mortality through its effect on perceived returns to investments in health and to human capital. This project tests the behavioral investment hypothesis against alternatives for explaining income's role in creating mortality differences. Her model suggests that variation in the practice of preventive health behaviors reflects rational responses by individuals given their prior experiences and surroundings. It is consistent with mounting empirical evidence of the importance of personal behavior in determining health and longevity. She suggests, however, that these behaviors can be changed. Acknowledging the important role of individual behavior, Dr. Duleep views it as a function of experience amenable to economic and social policy. Her work will result in a sounder foundation for policy formation.