Income inequality and the resulting health effects
Income inequality and the resulting health effects. Income inequality is a global issue with its rising records since the recorded time. World concentration of wealth in few hands is on the increase. According to the Human Development report of 1996, out of the $23 trillion global gross domestic product, $18 trillion accrued to the industrialized countries. Developing countries are the home to 80% of the world’s population and had $5 trillion in the gross domestic share. The poorest 20% of the people experienced a decline of the global income from 2.3% to 1.4% in a thirty-year period. Shocking statistics apply to the United States where despite being the richest country in the world, there is a huge disparity between the poor and the rich in income distribution. The poorest 20% of the population shared 4% of the aggregate income while richest 20% had a share of 43.8% of the gross income in 1967. The inequality grew to 3.7% of the share for the bottom 20% and 49.0% for the top 20%. There are significant effects of the income disparities to the health of the affected persons (Kawachi et al. 1492).Various past studies have studied the relation between wealth gap and health status of the individuals (Wanda, Higuchi & Smith 2015). Though there is compelling evidence of the existence of the relation between chronic illnesses and socioeconomic position of individuals in the society, its understanding is not satisfactory (Brown and Arleen 63-77).
Health and income inequality
Numerous negative health effects have been associated with inequalities in income distribution. Huge income gaps give high purchasing power to the wealthy and little to low-income families. The disparities in income make the two groups exist as different entities of the same community trying to lead similar lifestyles. According to (Kawachi et al. 1493), one of the characteristics of the income vs. life expectancy graph is that the slope declines with increased income. The curve not only applied to the data for the United States but also for other countries of the world. Similar average income but different distributions seem to cause a disparity in the life expectancy. To determine income disparity causes to health hazards, (Kawachi et al. 1493) uses life expectancy at birth, infant mortality, and life expectancy at age 5 years. With the study, a positive correlation determined using the Gini coefficient between life expectancy and both GNP and income distribution.
Messias et al. (2011), in their findings on the state level study found income inequality positively correlating with the prevalence of depression. By use of the Gini coefficients, depression prevalence link to the household income estimated by the census bureau. Burns et al. (2014) in their investigation of schizophrenia found countries with huge gaps in income to be at a higher risk of the disease. Eroded social capital and the reduced social cohesion result to chronic stress from desperate lives that places individuals at risk of schizophrenia.
Wunda et al. (2015 pp.6) concluded in their study that, working in the manufacturing industries, and having a low education level gradually affected self-rated health for the middle-aged Japanese men. Persons working in the manufacturing industries had lower income compared to the individuals in the management positions.Due to the lower income than others in the society, and living in rental apartments other than in estates, the production workers tend to be in their own groups in the community alienated from the wealthy who are the owners of the apartments. In this way, they can compare themselves with their likes within their economic status. Members of the community are happier interacting with others at the same economic level and status as theirs.
Why wealthy has better health.
Various studies have studied the relationship between the level of income and health status. Either the probability of developing a health condition, the rate of mortality, vulnerability to disease-causing germs, incidences of stress and depression among other health indicators. Low-income families and individuals experienced greater effect than those earning satisfactory and higher incomes. Some of the factors favoring the high-income class are as described below
Better access to therapeutic care. It appears glaringly evident that wealthier individuals have better protection and can manage the cost of additional out-of-pocket medicinal costs. Comparative health inconsistencies likewise exist in the United Kingdom and different nations with all inclusive health scope. Research demonstrates that the capacity to pay for medical care decides just a little divide of the distinction in health between the rich and poor people.
More secure homes and neighborhoods. As Cohen assumed (Sightings 2012), individuals at the lower end of the monetary stepping stool tend not to possess their own homes. Rather, they ordinarily lease apartments in poorer neighborhoods. These areas have more activity, more contamination, more commotion, and more crime. Moreover, those components take a toll on individuals’ health and prosperity.
Poorly paid individuals experience the ill effects of anxiety. Indeed, rich individuals may have powerful employments and endure the tension of attempting to stay aware of the Joneses. Additionally, they have a tendency to have more control over their lives including how they invest their energy. In addition, Hector Myers, an educator at UCLA (Sightings 2012), found that individuals from ethnic and racial minorities, who have a tendency to be lower on the monetary scale, experience the ill effects of segregation that influences “both the mental and natural pathways to sickness.” In addition, Cohen has demonstrated that individuals who endure the indignities of being unemployed or underemployed are four and a half times more vulnerable than their fully occupied counterparts to be debilitated when presented to an infection (Sightings 2012).
Rich individuals eat healthier nourishment. Affluent individuals can bear to purchase better sustenance, they have a tendency to be better educated and more mindful of the medical advantages of new leafy foods and in addition, the negative effects of sugary, salty, high-fat nourishment. At the end of the day, not only do they shop at Whole Foods as opposed to ceasing by McDonald’s, yet when they do permit themselves to eat at a fast-food place they are more inclined to request a plate of mixed greens than a twofold cheeseburger.
The rich have the capacity to defer delight. The celebrated Stanford University “marshmallow study” found that youthful youngsters why should capable oppose eating a marshmallow for 15 minutes, on the guarantee of being remunerated with two marshmallows, later scored a normal of 210 focuses higher on their SAT tests than children who couldn’t hold up (Sightings 2012).. Kids with more poise in the marshmallow test were less inclined to create health issues, more averse to experience the ill effects of enslavement, and less inclined to wind up poor. An alternate study took after a thousand kids up to age 32 and upheld the finding that individuals why should capable activity discretion were healthier and wealthier than their companions. They were additionally less inclined to smoke, perpetrate a wrongdoing or have an undesirable pregnancy than individuals who were hastier (Sightings 2012).
In policymaking, the wealthy are well represented and, therefore, better policies act in favor of the rich. There are individualized care services for the rich, depending on how the rich wish to spend their money.
Low income and health
Poor wage is hazardous to health from multiple points of view. The poor cannot manage the cost of the intentions to lead a sound life. A portion of the inefficiencies connected with poor is powerlessness to guarantee children sufficient nourishment, paying the service bills for warming amid winter or cooling in the midst of a warmth wave. Notwithstanding the powerlessness to satisfy the essential needs, being poor additionally implies the absence of income to take part completely in the society. Case in point, in a well-off society like America, for one to have the capacity to take an interest completely as a subject, access to extra merchandise, for example, method for correspondence and transportation is a need.
Berkman outlines three-account linking income inequality to health in a population that is
One of the accounts is the absolute income effect. As plotted by Berkman (pp.127), individual/household income have a concave relationship with positive and negative first and second derivatives respectively. An incremental gain in income is assumed to have the diminishing marginal return on income. The concave shape is robust and universal for the health-income relationship for very low-income families/individuals with each additional dollar yielding a greater effect than for families with sufficient income. In his book Berkman (pp.129), a simulation involving shifting of 10% of the income toward standardization i.e. shifting 10% of income from the top half to the bottom half will result in reduction in the mortality rates by about 4%. However, there is the assumption that only inequality in income is the cause of the deaths, 4% reduction in the total deaths in a modest impact.
Another factor is the relative income effect where an individual or family may have enough to cater for their basic needs but lack enough to purchase what other members of the community have. The social comparison generates psychological effects in personal competition and a violation of the fairness norms. Individuals with these effects are likely to have health effects via stress and frustrations. Most people are subject to social comparisons and positional competition such that they would prefer an environment where they relatively compare with those around them. The gap between reality and aspirations was a strong factor in predicting stress related illnesses such as a likelihood of high blood pressure and depression. Consumption of a household was seen to be dependent on the relative income as much as the absolute income was the major determinant. The research found keeping up with the Joneses to be toxic to health particularly when the families have limited means to do so easily Berkman (pp.132).
The last effect is the contextual effect of income inequality that links the income inequality to the population health. The contextual theory postulates direct effects on individual health from the concavity effect of absolute income. Most of the power is concentrated in the wealthy group in the society. Most of the policies created are therefore for the benefit of the wealthy. Therefore, the wealthy becomes wealthier while the poor remains becoming more deprived of the basics. In communities with the massive polarization of incomes, there is an erosion of social cohesion. The rich segregates themselves from the rest of the community forming their own small communities.
Most of the scholars agree that low income attract poverty and consequently ill health. Most of the low-income earners cannot afford on time treatment that worsens even containable conditions. Apart from the wealthy, who can afford personalized medication, the health services offered are standard to all members of the society. It is, therefore, easily affordable to individuals and homes with higher income compared to the low-income families to whom medication may lead to a substitution or postponement of another service. The poor cannot afford what others ‘normal people’ of middle and higher income levels can afford.
Existing in a community where the relative income has a high disparity will always lead to envy for the wealthy for those unable to lead the similar life. The more the income, the more the expenditure, and the same for the little income. Health hazards in such a population incorporate stress and dissatisfaction leading to depression. Diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma, among other stress related infections. Measures to reduce the income inequality gap needs to incorporation in the policies to reduce the wealth gap. Members of both groups should be incorporated in policy formulation to ensure all the groups are well represented without heavier burden to any of the groups.
Burns, Jonathan K., Andrew Tomita, and Amy S. Kapadia. “Income inequality and schizophrenia: Increased schizophrenia incidence in countries with high levels of income inequality.” International Journal of Social Psychiatry 60.2 (2014): 185-196.
Kawachi, Ichiro, et al. “Social capital, income inequality, and mortality.” American journal of public health 87.9 (1997): 1491-1498.
Brown, Arleen F., et al. “Socioeconomic position and health among persons with diabetes mellitus: a conceptual framework and review of the literature.” Epidemiologic reviews 26.1 (2004): 63-77.
Messias, Erick, William W. Eaton, and Amy N. Grooms. “Economic grand rounds: income inequality and depression prevalence across the United States: an ecological study.” Psychiatric Services (2014).
Sightings T. (2012). Why the wealthy are healthy. US News & World Report. Retrieved from: http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/on-retirement/2012/05/15/why-the-wealthy-are-healthy
Berkman, Lisa F., Ichiro Kawachi, and Maria Glymour, eds. Social epidemiology. Oxford University Press, 2014.