Wealth inequalities in physical and cognitive impairments across Japan and Europe: the role of health expenditure and infrastructure

Dr. Nekehia Quashie along with a team of Japanese and German researchers examined the relationship between wealth and later life health based on physical and cognitive impairments among older adults in Europe and Japan. In this study the team found that physical and cognitive impairments were more contracted among less wealthy groups. The team also examined the role of health care expenditure and health infrastructure. Their findings showed that higher healthcare expenditure was associated with lower wealth inequality in physical impairments. Additionally, a higher availability of doctors and hospital beds was also correlated with lower wealth inequalities only for physical impairments. The study provides strong support for the importance of individual wealth for both health dimensions, physical and cognitive impairments but structural investments appear to be more salient for reducing inequality in physical impairments.