INF10009 Link Between Income Inequality and Poor Health: Assessment 1 Answer
WHAT ARE THE LINKAGES BETWEEN INCOME INEQUALITY AND POOR HEALTH?
Presently, the primary sources of inequalities among people are unequal access to health-related services. Health does not refer to the absence of infirmity or the diseases, but it is a state of complete mental, physical as well as social wellbeing. Lack of education, sufficient income, food, and gender disparities along with other economic, social as well as cultural variations might cause health to suffer. Income inequality and poor health have become dependent on each other. The main reason behind it is accessing healthcare services are becoming more expensive along with the improvement of healthcare services which are creating difficulties for the lower class people in obtaining the healthcare facilities who have lesser capacity to earn. The original aim of this essay is identifying the link between income inequality and poor health.
Linkages between income inequality and poor health:
According to the epidemiology research, higher level of inequality always creates a negative impact on the health because inequality reduces the social cohesion which increases stresses, fear as well as insecurities among every people (Pickett & Wilkinson, 2015). Health experts and economists have demonstrated the fact that people who live in poor society mainly lives a decidedly shorter lives, whereas, people who live in the nation with a lower level of inequalities lives more extended periods of times.
Figure 1: World inequality and infant mortality
(Source: Elgar et al. 2016)
The study has also made it more apparent that there is a good link among the inequalities and mental health. It is seen that a nation with a higher degree of differences among rich and poor increases the cases of schizophrenia (Batterham et al. 2016). Generally, a 0.2 point increase in the Gini coefficient of a country creates eight additional incidents of the schizophrenia per every 100000 people (Marmot, 2015). The main reason behind it is a higher level of inequalities in society reduces social cohesion and develops the chances of chronic stress.
Figure 2: Inequality versus world mental health
(Source: Batterham et al. 2016)
Arcaya, Arcaya & Subramanian (2015) stated that the extreme level of inequality always affects the perception of people regarding well-being. In a country where the top 1% holds most of the national income, people are tending to have a lower sense of prosperity. As argued by Elgar et al. (2017), the social determinant of the health varies among the developing and developed nations. It has been observed that a girl born in the present time is expected to live more than 80 years if she is born in the developed countries, but there are chances that she could live 45 years if she is born in the less developed countries (Krueger, 2018). Presently, the lack of education and poverty are the two primary drivers of early mortality and poor health. Poor housing conditions, as well as poor nutrition, create a higher level of impacts on the development of mental health, anxiety, stress and ambitions for life. The incidence of cervical cancers and childhood cancers are highest in north Argentina where the most miserable people live. According to Elgar et al. (2015), countries with the extreme level of inequalities have very lower rates of the trusts, social mobility as well as educational performance and higher rates of infant mortality, imprisonment, teenage births etcetera. The main reason behind it is unequal countries always discourage the lower income group to gain a better education which reduces their knowledge about different health well-being factors.
As stated by Krueger (2018), asymmetric wealth distribution is not a new fact because humans have lived in this lopsided societies for long years. As argued by Bartley (2016), inequality isn't bad for the economic health of a country, but it creates an adverse impact on the overall health of humanity. The growing level of evidence has established the fact that a higher level of inequality increases the number of crime, creates worse public health conditions and generates more social illness which affects every level of society. According to Mullahy, Robert & Wolfe (2018), poverty goes hand in hand with the inequalities. Along with the more significant inequalities in income, social status and education, the health inequalities are also increases.
The rich people mainly live a different life from the rest of people who are not rich, and they live in a different neighbourhood and send their children to different schools from where they can get good educations (Adler, Glymour & Fielding, 2016). When rich people pay directly for every essential service for them, then they become less tending to pay tax for other people on the societies which erode the public services. This whole argument is against the facilities for poor people who are different than the rich because poor people get poor services (Schultz & Mullings, 2006). Health-related services mainly follow a social gradient.
Along with the development of wealth, the costs of the health-related services also increases which creates difficulties for the poor in getting those services. As argued by Douglas (2016), earning money 1 million to 2 million would not change the economic status of a person because earning this extra 1 million money will not make people go beyond the 1% wealthiest people, but it will increase the national income which will increase the cost of services. Therefore, a small amount of extra income can increase the costs of health-related services which creates difficulties for the poor in accessing these services
Ineffective education is also one of the factors which can lead to poor health because ineffective education is directly linked with inequality. (2019) stated that dDuring the transition phase of youth that means when youth goes to the secondary school from elementary school then if any youth do not get the chances to access the further education then they face difficulties in enhancing their technical knowledge to get a good job which in turns creates income and social inequalities (Bauer & Landholt, 2018). As the youth do not understand the access to proper higher education in their life, then they face difficulties in getting adequate knowledge about the proper nutrition along with other health-related information. This situation increases the possibilities of poor health for the lower socioeconomic group.
Presently, every women and girl belonging from the developing nations are participating in the school system more than earlier times. However, in some developing countries, inequalities mainly affect rural, poor as well as indigenous women (Ames, 2012). Due to the poor economic conditions, some women face difficulties in accessing proper education which creates problems for them in getting appropriate knowledge to secure better health (Ames, 2012). As those women do not know about various diseases, the importance of nutrition in life and disparate treatment available to treat different conditions so that those women faces difficulties in securing good health.
According to Papan & Clow (2015), nearly three-quarters of the chronic disease-related deaths have occurred in the low and medium income countries. This is because people belong to those countries mainly consumes low costs, less nutritious and high-fat foods which increases the chances of obesity in this country. Obesity is primarily associated with a range of health morbidities or conditions which include asthma, osteoarthritis, type 2 diabetes, types of cancers, chronic back pain, and strokes etcetera (Papan & Clow, 2015). Schuring et al. (2019) stated that women who have a higher degree of food insecurities are also suffered due to obesity. As per a study, it has been observed that women of various developed nations such as Australia, USA, and the UK are 20% to 40% more obese than other people who have food securities which clearly show that there are intrahousehold inequalities (Papan & Clow, 2015). The higher rates of food insecurities are mainly observed among the lone parents with a child or children. Therefore, it can be said that women and men have income inequalities which sometimes creates food insecurities among women and increases the possibilities of poor health conditions.
Epidemiological studies have made it clearer that income inequalities within a given population have some negative impact on health. Income refers to the stream of revenues from salaries, wages or interests achieved from savings, profits gained from selling something etcetera. Income inequality refers to the extent to which incomes can be distributed unevenly among a particular population (Schultz & Mullings, 2006). Income is strongly influential on the longevity of life and health through the behavioural, clinical as well as environmental mechanisms. Economic inequality has an enormous influence on the expectancy of life. In the year of 1970s, a 60-year-old man with good income was expected to live 1 to 2 years longer than a man who has a lower level of income. In the present century, a 60-year-old man is expected to live 5.8 years longer than because of the advancements of medical science. As stated by Ponsford et al. (2018), presently, medical science has been advanced due to innovation that has also increased the costs of accessing medical treatments. As an example, it can be mentioned that low-income Americans are facing higher rates of physical difficulties such as strokes, diabetes, heart diseases along with other chronic conditions. The increasing costs of the medical treatments create problems for the poor people in accessing the medical facilities for them which lead to poor health for them.
Income inequality causes social and health-related problems due to the status of anxiety. As stated by Compton & Shim (2015), income inequality is harmful to people because it places people in a hierarchy which increases the status related competition which ultimately resulted in the poor health conditions as well as adverse health-related outcomes. Bécares (2015) argued that Anxiety about income inequality is the mechanisms by which social problems can be increased. In those consequences, the sources of stresses are lack of friends, deficient social status along with the stresses in early life. Therefore, income inequality creates chronic stresses, depressions and lower self-esteem which ultimately build some mental health issues.
Moreover, the consequences of the income inequality also produce a lower life expectancy, the increasing rate of a teenage birth, violence in the society and higher rate of murder (Smith, Bambra & Hill, 2016). The theory of status anxiety suggested the fact that people compare them with other people which increase anxiety among them about their position. This anxiety often leads to different unwanted consequences. Income inequality creates unequal access to education which affects people from an early age. As stated by Paredes (2016) children belonging from the poorer backgrounds are less likely to access the home learning environment. The main reason behind it is children who are residing from lower economic background generally have parents who are not much educated. This situation destroys the chances of the home learning environment (Schultz & Mullings, 2006). Lower access to education reduces the opportunities to get a good job in the future which increases the chances of poor health in their future.
Culture has an important role in income inequality. Japan and Sweden are the outliers in case of equality so that they have a lesser number of social problems. Income equality is the consensus of the collectivism. As stated by Mehdipanah et al. (2015), the countries that follow the collectivist cultures are more likely to have lower income inequality. Therefore, in those countries, almost every people can afford a better healthcare facility to secure good mental and physical health for them. Wang, Li & Chen (2015) argued that income inequality and access to health-related services are also dependent on the rate of education in a particular country. If the rate of education is high in a country, then there are vast possibilities that the employability is high in the country which increases the possibility to access the healthcare services with efficiencies.
Various mechanisms are there through which income influences heath that are mainly divided into clinical, behavioural as well as environmental factors. Compared to people with higher income, people with low income mostly face the most significant level of barrier in accessing medical care (Rao & Sweetman, 2014). This is because people with lower income mainly meets issues in obtaining health insurance and receiving new technologies as well as drugs while accessing various primary and speciality care. The main reason behind it is people with lower income mainly doing jobs in those organisation that do not offer then any medical insurance along with other health-related benefits (Truesdale & Jencks, 2016). In Australia, there are only 47% people who have the coverage of private hospital, and there are only 56% people who have general treatment coverage in the year of 2016 (Mithen et al. 2015). In the USA, there are less than a third people belonging from the low-income group who gets the health insurance from their employers compared to the 60% people residing from the high-income group of people.
People with low income also have higher rates of the behavioural risk factors such as smoking, utilisation of various substances, and obesity along with the low level of physical activities. These behavioural risk factors profoundly influenced the community as well as home environments in which they live (Rao & Sweetman, 2014). As an example, it can be said that if tobacco manufacturing company observes that people with lower income are consuming tobacco in the greatest extents, then they will targets these lower-income people with the help of different marketing strategy (Wilkinson & Pickett, 2017). This fact will increase the consumption of tobacco. Along with that, people with lower income have limited access to the pharmacotherapy as well as cessation counselling services which may create chronic stress among the people with lower income.
Poor health habits are prevalent in the lower economic environments because of the lack of funds for accessing better nutrition, education as well as medical attention. For example, most of the high sodium and high-fat foods which leads to heart diseases are tending to be the most inexpensive foods found in stores (Wilkinson & Pickett, 2017). The lower income group of people are managing to buy cheap food because they cannot earn more so that there are higher levels of possibilities that those lower income groups of people buy the unhealthy foods which can create a devastating impact on the health. Due to the poor nutrition, the lower socioeconomic class not only suffers due to the heart diseases but they also suffer from chronic lung diseases, back pain, obesity, cancers, gastrointestinal disorders, low life expectancy and many more.
The above description can conclude the fact that inequality has a higher level of negative impact on the health of the lower social, economic group of people. This is because; inequality always creates social anxiety among people as they always compare their condition with other people who are their relatives or friends. This comparison produces a negative impact on the mental health of people. Along with the improvement of the economic condition of the top 1% rich people, the national income of a country also increases which increases the costs of various products and services along with the healthcare services. This situation creates difficulties for the lower economic group of people to access healthcare services as their earning is not good.
For reducing the chances of poor health outcome in a country, it is always necessary for government in taking a good step. The government of both the developed and developing countries must make good action in offering free essential healthcare services to every people so that it can help the low-income people in accessing basic good health. Moreover, the government must take steps to equalise the economic condition of people living in a society so that it can reduce the chances of social anxiety. A better taxation system and a good policy need to be developed to equality the economy. Moreover, constant campaigning needs to be arranged by the government of a country so that they can offer different knowledge about proper nutrition, multiple diseases, causes of diseases and different consequences of the diseases.