Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Poor Health for the Poor Living in Affluent Neighborhoods

In a provocative new study by Stanford University School of Medicine researchers, low-income people who were living in higher-income neighborhoods died at substantially higher rates than the poor who were living among the poor.

Mining data from a heart disease study that began in 1979, the researchers discovered that low-income women living in higher-income neighborhoods had a 70 percent higher risk of death during the study period than their wealthier neighbors. The risk profile was similar among men.

Researchers can only speculate why.

One theory is primarily economic. "They may have a home right next to a health clinic, a pharmacy or a private gym, but proximity does not mean access,'' said Winkleby. Instead of enjoying a movie or a game of racket ball after work, the poor person living in the wealthy neighborhood might be working her second shift just to keep up with the rent.

Another theory reaches for a sociological explanation -- that people who feel isolated or out-of-place tend to have poorer health than those who feel part of a community, no matter what their economic status. Loneliness can be a killer.
Very interesting. I had thought that it would be better to try and get rid of concentrated pockets of poverty, to spread the poor out so no area had too high of a concentration. But with data like this, I will have to revisit that idea.

Of course, my belief might still be valid about extreme poverty like inner cities.
Winkleby cautioned that her study did not explore health disparities among people or neighborhoods representing extreme poverty or wealth. Instead, the study looked at people with median incomes as low as $18,300 to as high as $46,900.
via SF Gate


crush41 said...

Relative wealth is crucial, second only to health in terms of self-reported happiness (and presumably physical health as well!). Yet more circumstantial evidence.

We need more professionals and fewer menials. We need wealthier people to have more children and poorer people to have fewer. These are both key to closing the wealth gap. Our current immigration policies and AA policies do the opposite.

Fat Knowledge said...


You wouldn't happen to have a source easily available for the link between relative wealth, health and happiness, would you?

I would be interested to see a study of Mexican immigrants and how their health compares to similar people who staid home. This study suggests that those that stay home would have better health. If that were true, you might be able to convince a globalist like me that immigration isn't always a good thing.

As for poorer people having fewer children, I wonder if that is looking at it backwards. That people become poor because they have children. I would guess that there are very few poor people that have no children or waited until 30 to have children.

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