Health and Wealth

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Introduction
Background
Inequalities Race Poor health
Poor health breeds economic instability
Inequality breeds stress
The outcome
References


There is plenty of evidence that money buys better healthcare, better health, and a longer life. On the other hand, good health is also linked to the ability to create wealth. Thus, there are strong links between several health indicators on the average lifespan of individuals and their disposable income.

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Background

Scientists have already summarized the results of several studies to show that wealthier people live longer, have fewer chronic diseases, and maintain a higher level of functioning well into old age. Reduced mortality rates, longer life expectancy and lower risk of income-modified living conditions, such as obesity, smoking, hypertension and asthma, are all co-benefits of a high disposable income.

This is because of the better living conditions available to the wealthy, combined with better preventive and therapeutic health care, which means that they do not fall as seriously ill or remain so for as long as the poorest. Disability or chronic ill health resulting from such conditions can haunt a person for life.

The effects of poor health care due to poverty and social inequality can span generations and affect unborn children and children. For example, a lack of vaccinations can leave the unborn child prone to teratogenic infections such as rubella and measles. Malnutrition during pregnancy can lead to low birth weight and developmental abnormalities.

Similarly, maternal deaths may be higher due to lack of access to affordable, quality health care. Increased health spending means less money for other expenses, reduced savings and therefore a state of unpreparedness for health and other emergencies. Poor health also reduces productivity, reduces earning capacity, impacts learning, and reduces emotional well-being.

Among high-income countries, American men and women live to be 76 and 81 years old, respectively. As they have the highest injury and disease rates in the world, their old age is medically and financially demanding. Interestingly, despite high incomes, Americans have high rates of homicide, motor vehicle accidents, sexually transmitted diseases, obesity and diabetes, alcohol and drug-related deaths, lung diseases, cardiovascular diseases and debilitating autoimmune and joint diseases.

Inequalities Race Poor health

Social inequalities are a powerful weapon to keep the poor in this condition, while helping the rich to get richer. It should be noted that the disparity between the rich and the poor has become glaring in the United States. Poor households with negative or zero wealth make up more than a fifth of all households, according to 2016 data, leaving them destitute in the event of unemployment, unexpected illness or other expenses.

Because health care is expensive, many Americans don’t have insurance. Even so, lack of health care is responsible for one in ten deaths before the expected lifespan. The problems mentioned above cause the remaining premature deaths among poor Americans. The poorest adults are likely to suffer from hypertension, obesity, infectious diseases, heart disease and psychiatric illnesses.

Poverty is closely linked to discrimination and systemic racism, which largely explain the difficulties experienced by the less wealthy. For example, poor or minority neighborhoods receive less investment and have lower real estate prices. Residents find it almost impossible to access bank loans and run a much higher risk of being unfairly suspected or treated by the police and the justice system.

Health inequalities are linked to differences in rates of various conditions such as asthma, diabetes, obesity and cancer, as well as societal ills such as violence, drug abuse and alcoholism ; differences in health care available for different groups and ethnicities; and differences in available health insurance. As a result, the poorest US counties have a life expectancy up to three decades lower than that of the wealthiest – a stark illustration that shows how close America’s poor are to the world’s unhealthiest populations.

Health insurance

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Poor health breeds economic instability

Numerous studies show that ill health directly impairs the ability to work and earn, both for the worker and their related family, to act as consumers and to participate in leisure activities. Indirect costs are also high, with reduced work productivity (“presenteeism”), absence from work (absenteeism), and early retirement or non-employment due to illness with debilitating conditions.

A dramatic illustration is the 40% cost of maintaining someone with multiple sclerosis that comes simply from lost productivity because the person can no longer work.

Another huge indirect cost is the need for carers for the sick, who may not be able to get to work or be less productive while at work.

Inequality breeds stress

Social inequality, the largest in the United States of any developed country, appears to be an independent factor that reduces life expectancy, overall health, and well-being, despite higher income. Studies show that “people in more equal societies live longer, experience less violence, have lower rates of obesity and teenage pregnancy, are less likely to use illicit drugs, and enjoy better mental health than their counterparts in countries where the gap between rich and poor is wide.”

Stress is a powerful weapon and is experienced by rich and poor alike. The effects of social inequality, seen most starkly in the United States, are mediated by chronic stress, which has a deleterious effect on the heart, blood vessels, immune responses, and brain.

In addition to the physical aspects of poverty, which can be observed, even the wealthy suffer from chronic performance anxiety, demands to keep up appearances and increase their wealth through fierce and endless competition, and loss of trust. Inevitably, such a society breaks down due to the insurmountable barriers of suspicion and mistrust between the people who make up the community.

When it comes to child health, less unequal societies stand out with higher rates of childhood vaccination, accidental child deaths, lower rates of tobacco and alcohol dependence, and success rates higher school.

Health inequalities

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The outcome

According to sociologists, policies to reduce inequalities are health and wealth policies. Entrenched commercial interests that market foods and products that promote ill health must be fought and removed from areas of decision-making at the top. However, this is unlikely to happen anywhere in the world, meaning individuals and communities need to take their health and wealth into their own hands.

Thus, interventions on several fronts will be necessary. Small Steps to Health and Wealth is a one-step program that offers life coaching to poor and/or sick people to help them change their habits to meet their long-term goals.

People should also take charge of their health as much as possible, with ongoing maintenance, scheduled regular check-ups, and building good habits. The same goes for wealth creation, especially since a longer lifespan implies the need to build up sufficient capital to last a lifetime.

Public attitudes towards health and wealth are underpinned by public knowledge of what drives these entities. In turn, public attitudes determine public behavior. Behavior is an area that psychologists can help change, and their skills should be harnessed to foster healthy and productive behavior.

The situation that favors the creation and perpetuation of economic disparities can only be corrected by advancing the wealth to be invested among those who have been disadvantaged by all these factors, allowing them to move forward by providing them with opportunities in the education, banking, police and judicial systems. , housing and including their input when developing policies.

Microloans for small businesses, help to rent better houses in better neighborhoods or to buy their own house, help adults better understand financial management, coaching to help achieve specific goals and help to obtain a minimum wage sufficient for live a decent life while simultaneously providing assistance to move up the ladder, where appropriate, through on-the-job training.

Focusing on children is a very effective strategy because it ensures a good start for everyone and has the most long-term ramifications of all. This includes quality universal prenatal care, early education with all children allowed to attend good preschools, and improving the education system to achieve high academic and learning skills. Classrooms are also the fertile ground where educators can instil healthy attitudes and behaviors that foster diligence and creativity.

Along with equalizing access to health care, the quality of care provided to the poor must improve. The most important thing is to target health promotion opportunities because this happens earlier in the course of events rather than just focusing on results.

Better treatment of the sick would keep carers on the job longer, increasing overall incomes. A good distribution of economic growth by investing in public services would benefit the poor and ease the pressure on safety net services.

References:

Further reading

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