Wealth and income inequality is bad for your health

12780488-Big-pile-of-the-money-Green-dollars-USA-3D-concept-Isolated-on-white-background--Stock-PhotoMoney can’t buy health.


3 responses to “Wealth and income inequality is bad for your health

  1. I’m going to have to look into this because neither the article or the Yes! Magazine original provide any links to data in the public record, There’s just one AJPH 2002 report cited, (but not linked to), and the author’s assertion that more than 170 studies back up the claim is not verified. With anything. At All.

    This doesn’t really jibe with other reports I’ve seen covered…like
    here…and here. It also seems inconsistent with reports I’ve read on amenable mortality in the US.

    I hate it when writers don’t verify.

    But first? LUNCH!

  2. I didn’t have to go far to find Diane K. McLaughlin’s 2002 American Journal of Public Health article, Income Inequality and Mortality in US Counties: Does Minority Racial Concentration Matter?, cited by Yes! Magazine in the original article. (I actually had it in my bookmarks.) It is, as claimed, widely cited in other similar studies. I also found it at my go to starting point for inequality data, Inequality.org.

    My suspicion about the article began with the way McLaughlin’s findings were represented. Stating it this way…

    In the United States, the most affluent die at a greater rate (912.2 per 100,000) in counties with higher income inequality than the poorest (883.3 per 100,000) in counties with lower income inequality.

    …is a not a complete picture of mortality rates relative to income inequality as reported by McLaughlin.

    I think this graph is a clearer illustration of McLaughlin’s primary findings. It shows three things:
    1) the mortality rates for poor people are higher in every income inequality quartile than they are for the rich–
    2) the difference in mortality rates between rich and poor through all quartiles are relatively constant…about 8%–
    3) the increase in mortality rates from low equality areas to high are also relatively constant for rich and poor…about 11%.

    My initial impression on the tone of the article may have been erroneous, but excluding data that shows income inequality is bad for everybody, as far as mortality rates are concerned, but especially bad for the poor regardless of their position on an income inequality matrix, didn’t help much, either. It’s a top/down perspective. I’m more of a bottom/up kind of guy.

    While I’m at it, I’m not happy with anything after…

    Researchers don’t know why, but they have theories. Some say more people in unequal societies can’t buy what they need to stay healthy.

    …which ignores mountains of data that moves past the gross generalizations offered by Bezrucha. (Amenable mortality for one.) And the author, again, ignores a key finding in the study she cites. But let’s not go there.

    It’s true that money can’t buy health. But…as far as mortality is concerned…it don’t hurt, either.

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