A note on the decomposition of the health concentration index

PM Clarke, Ulf Gerdtham, LB Connelly

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In recent work, the concentration index has been widely used as a measure of income-related health inequality. The purpose of this note is to illustrate two different methods for decomposing the overall health concentration index using data collected from a Short Form (SF-36) survey of the general Australian population conducted in 1995. For simplicity, we focus on the physical functioning scale of the SF-36. Firstly we examine decomposition 'by component' by separating the concentration index for the physical functioning scale into the ten items on which it is based. The results show that the items contribute differently to the overall inequality measure, i.e. two of the items contributed 13% and 5%, respectively, to the overall measure. Second, to illustrate the 'by subgroup' method we decompose the concentration index by employment status. This involves separating the population into two groups: individuals currently in employment; and individuals not currently employed. We find that the inequality between these groups is about five times greater than the inequality within each group. These methods provide insights into the nature of inequality that can be used to inform policy design to reduce income related health inequalities. Copyright (C) 2002 John Wiley Sons, Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)511-516
JournalHealth Economics
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2003

Bibliographical note

The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015.
The record was previously connected to the following departments: Lund University Centre for Health Economics (LUCHE) (016630120), Community Medicine (013241810), Department of Economics (012008000), Health Economics (013240036)

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
  • Health Care Service and Management, Health Policy and Services and Health Economy


  • short form 36
  • decomposition
  • health inequality
  • concentration index
  • unemployment
  • Australia


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