Researchers at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) investigated hundreds of theories about how income influences health. The “How does money influence health?” report identifies four main – often overlapping – ways in which money (absolute and relative income inequalities) can be associated with differences in wellbeing and health inequalities:
- Material: money can be used to purchase superior goods and services, which improve health.
- Psychosocial: managing on a low income is more stressful. Comparing oneself to others and perceiving oneself to be at the bottom of the social ladder can cause long-term stresses. Higher levels of stress may lead to biochemical changes, which may result in greater risks of ill-health.
- Behavioural: people on low incomes may be more likely to adopt unhealthy / unwise behaviours (such as smoking, obesity, gambling and drinking) than people with higher incomes, who may be better able to adopt healthier lifestyles.
- Reverse causation: whereby poor health leads to lower income and poorer educational outcomes, so compounding the cycle of deprivation.
Benzeval, M. Bond, L. Campbel, M. [et al] (2014). How does money influence health? York: Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), March 10th 2014.
There is also an Executive Summary.
Possibly also of interest:
Stephens, P. (2014). Poor ‘face many more years of bad health’ than affluent. London: BBC Health News, March 14th 2014.
This relates to:
Inequality in Healthy Life Expectancy at Birth by National Deciles of Area Deprivation: England, 2009-11. London: Office for National Statistics, March 14th 2014.