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Health and Wealth WP 10/05

Publication Details

  • Health and Wealth
  • Published: 16 Nov 2010
  • Status: Current
  • Author: Anastasiadis, Simon
  • JEL Classification: D31; I10

Health and Wealth

Published 16 Nov 2010

Author: Simon Anastasiadis


This paper analyses the relationship between net wealth and health using Waves 1 to 3 of the Survey of Family, Income and Employment (SoFIE).  The results show that lower net wealth is associated with worse health over a range of differing measures of health. The paper acknowledges but does not attempt to resolve the complex issue of causality; does health cause wealth or vice versa?

Physical and mental wellbeing were both found to be positively associated with net wealth.  These measures of wellbeing were decomposed by the occurrence of a health failure, defined as an injury or illness lasting more than one week.  The results led to further inspection of the characteristics associated with health failures.  This revealed that those who experienced a health failure had, on average, less wealth and worse self-rated health than those who did not.

The progressive nature of poor health and lower net wealth was reinforced by considering self-rated health.  There was a clear negative relationship between poor self-rated health and lower net wealth over the five categories of self-rated health.

A series of chronic health conditions were also examined.  The presence of these conditions was associated with lower net wealth though certain conditions were not always significant.  Other than the presence of depression or schizophrenia, each chronic condition was decomposed by age of diagnosis revealing that asthma is more significant in the short term.  For conditions other than asthma the coefficients were not significantly different.
The analysis of wealth excluded those with zero or negative values for their wealth.  To provide a more complete picture, the probability of having zero or negative net wealth was modelled.  This revealed that individuals reporting poorer health were more likely to have non-positive net wealth.

This study has relied on cross-sectional data from SoFIE.  Once the full eight years of longitudinal data become available, a richer analysis of the impact of changes in health status over time on assets, liabilities and net wealth will be possible.

Browse section/chapter Download/Page range

1 Introduction

2 Previous studies

3 The Survey of Family, Income and Employment

4 Models

5 Results from core models

6 Results from logistic models

7 Conclusions


Appendix A

Appendix B

Appendix C

twp10-05.pdf (530 KB) pp.i–iii,1–61


Many thanks to K Henderson, M Gibbons, H Holt and G Scobie for their input, advice and feedback.

The Health Research Council of New Zealand, and Health Inequalities Research Programme of the University of Otago, Wellington, are acknowledged for funding and establishing the SoFIE-Health data utilised in this publication.


The views, opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this Working Paper are strictly those of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the views of the New Zealand Treasury or the New Zealand Government.  The New Zealand Treasury and the New Zealand Government take no responsibility for any errors or omissions in, or for the correctness of, the information contained in this Working Paper. The paper is presented not as policy, but with a view to inform and stimulate wider debate.

Access to the data used in this study was provided by Statistics New Zealand in a secure environment designed to give effect to the confidentiality provisions of the Statistics Act 1975.  The analysis in this paper is based on data from the Survey of Family, Income and Employment (SoFIE).  Statistics New Zealand has initiated a systems review for SoFIE.  Therefore data contained in this paper could be subject to change.  However, any errors in the analysis are those of the author, not Statistics New Zealand.


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