Income and Health, Part 1 » SPH | Boston University
Taken together, the picture depends on the level of aggregation. If income is protective of health, and the relationship is concave, then redistribution from rich . image CLICK TO VIEW. Table 1. Six theories of the effects of rising income . The evidence for a cross-sectional relationship between income inequality and. The relationship between income and health is one of the most explored topics in health economics but less is known about this relationship at.
Those below the curve, such as South Africa or Zimbabwehave life expectancy levels that are lower than would be predicted based on per capita income alone.
Preston curve - Wikipedia
Countries above the curve, such as Tajikistanhave life expectancies that are exceptionally high given their level of economic development. This level of income is generally associated with a crossing of a "epidemiological transition", where countries change from having most of their mortality occur due to infant mortality to that due to old age mortality, and from prevalence of infectious diseases to that of chronic diseases.
If the relationship is driven by other factors, if it is spurious, or if it is in fact health that leads to higher income, then this policy outcome will no longer be true. Some research however suggests that a similar relationship does not hold in time series and longitudinal data within individual countries. This suggests that over time changes in income may have no impact on health or even be negatively related. It could actually be that better health, as proxied by life expectancy, contributes to higher incomes, rather than vice versa.
Wealth is even more unequally divided than income: This matters because it is one way that inequities persist over time —through, for instance, legacy effects of Jim Crow laws or discriminatory housing policy that affect family wealth and health over generations. Studies on inequality and mortality may garner the most attention, but disparities in morbidity and quality of life are also evident.
Low-income adults are more than 3 times as likely to have limitations with routine activities like eating, bathing, and dressing due to chronic illness, compared with more affluent individuals. Children living in poverty are more likely to have risk factors such as obesity and elevated blood lead levels, affecting their future health prospects.
Income, Poverty, and Health Inequality
Is it the role of physicians and other health professionals to address poverty? Our answers to these questions determine whether wealth gradients lead only to health inequality—or whether they contribute to health inequitywhich is inequality that is avoidable and unfair. Two arguments favor paying attention to income and wealth distributions as part of advancing health equity.
First, health care spending—the realm of medical professionals—can worsen income inequality, at both individual and systemic levels. Individually, poor people have to spend a much greater proportion of their income on health care than richer people do. Inmedical outlays lowered the median income for the poorest decile of US individuals by Although the literature on this is sparse, there are some studies that have shown the direct relationship between wealth and health.
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It is clear that income is inextricably linked to health; and income, or at least the factors that lead to divergence in income, are very likely fundamental determinants of health. How, then, does income influence health? Our income shapes our circumstances, from the neighborhood we can afford to live in, to the food we can afford to eat, to our opportunities for social and educational advancement.
It also determines the quality of health care we can affordand the treatment possibilities available to us in the event of illness. These factors all contribute to overall well-being.
Low-resource neighborhoods, for example, can be more pollutedmore dangerousand less food-secure than more affluent communities. These disadvantages can carry over into the classroom. High-income parents are better able to invest in the academic development of their children, giving their kids scholastic opportunities that less advantaged children too often lack. Education, as I have commented previouslyis closely linked to health and can lead to higher-paying jobs that provide greater stability and fewer health risks.
And while our environment, education, and employment are all important by themselves, taken together they represent a broader web of circumstance, one that can either reinforce or undermine health.
Urban Institute Web site. It is perhaps unsurprising that, on the other end of the economic spectrum, being poor has been linked to chronic stress, undermining the emotional and physical health of low-resource populations. However, it is this very ubiquity that agitates for maintaining, at the heart of population health science and practice, a concern for the link between income and health.
This suggests, for example, a focus on scholarship that aims to understand the role of income, and how best to mitigate the consequences of low income, and to redistribute income if such redistribution can be shown to improve population health.
How will minimum wage regulations influence population health? What are educational interventions that can break the cycle of poverty?