02 December 2011

Health and income are in close relation, be careful !

Richer, better-educated people live longer than poorer, less-educated people. According to calculations from the National Longitudinal Mortality Survey which tracks the mortality of people originally interviewed in the CPS & other surveys, people whose relatives income in 1980 was greater than $50,000, putting them in the top five percent of incomes, had a life-expectancy at all ages that was about 25 percent longer than those in the bottom five percent, whose relatives income was less than $5,000. Lower mortality & morbidity is associated with  any positive indicator of socioeconomic status, a relationship that has come to be known as "the gradient."

African-Americans have higher but Hispanic Americans lower mortality rates than whites; the latter is named the "Hispanic paradox," so strong is the presumption that socioeconomic status is protective of health. Not only are wealth, income, schooling, & occupational grade protective, but so are several more exotic indicators. study found that life-spans were longer on larger gravestones, another that winners of Oscars live  years longer than those who were nominated but did not win.

Plenty of economists have attributed these correlations to the effects of schooling, arguing that more educated people are better able to understand & use health information, & are better placed to benefit from the healthcare process. Economists also have emphasized the negative correlation between socioeconomic status & various dicy behaviors, such as smoking, binge drinking, obesity, & lack of exercise. They have also pointed to mechanisms that run from health to earnings, schooling, & labor force participation, & to the role of potential third factors, such as discount rates, that affect both schooling & health.

Epidemiologists argue that the economists' explanations at best can report only a small part of the gradient; they argue that socioeconomic status is a essential cause of health. They often endorse measures to improve health through manipulating socioeconomic status, not only by improving schooling but also by increasing or redistributing incomes. Fiscal owner is seen as an gizmo of public health, an argument that is reinforced by ideas, associated with Richard Wilkinson, that income inequality, like air pollution or poisonous radiation, is itself a health hazard. Even if economic owner has no direct effect on health, the positive correlation between health & economic status implies that social inequalities in wellbeing are wider than would be recognized by taking a look at income alone.

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