Document Type


Date of Original Version



Health Studies


Although prior research has provided insights into the association between country-level factors and health inequalities, key research gaps remain. First, most previous studies examine subjective rather than objective health measures. Second, the wealth dimension in health inequalities is understudied. Third, a handful of studies explicitly focus on older adults. To bridge these research gaps, this study measures wealth-related inequalities in physical and cognitive impairments and examines the extent to which welfare states moderate wealth inequalities in physical and cognitive impairments among older people across Japan and Europe. We utilized harmonized data on non-institutionalized individuals aged 50–75 from the Japanese Study of Aging and Retirement (JSTAR) and the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) (N = 31,969 for physical impairments and 31,348 for cognitive impairments). Our multilevel linear regression analyses examined whether national public health spending and healthcare access resources explained cross-country differences in wealth inequalities in physical and cognitive impairments. We applied a concentration index to quantify the degree of wealth inequalities in impairments. The findings indicate that inequalities in both impairment outcomes favored wealthier individuals in all countries, but the magnitude of inequality varied by country. Furthermore, a higher share of public health spending, lower out-of-pocket expenditure, and higher investment in healthcare resources were associated with lower wealth inequalities, especially for physical impairments. Our findings suggest that different health interventions and policies may be needed to mitigate specific impairment inequalities.

Publication Title, e.g., Journal

International Journal of Equity in Health



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.