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1. Consequences of healthcare expenditures on standard of living
2. Poverty is associated with higher rates of diseases
3. Poverty is associated with shorter life expectancy
4. Poverty, health and race
Healthcare is expensive, and may push some people into poverty, and poor people will generally have less resources available for healthcare. More on the link between poverty and health is here.
Here’s a graph showing the poverty rates in the US before and after health expenses:
The share of people that fall below the poverty line rises if these expenses are taken into account (especially for the elderly, of course, since they spend more on health care). Since poor people are generally less well protected by health insurance (see below), their expenses will be relatively higher.
Hence it’s no surprise that the data on poverty and health indicators show strong correlations.
Living in poverty is associated with lower life expectancy, high infant mortality, poor reproductive health, higher rates of infectious diseases (notably tuberculosis and HIV infection), higher rates of substance use (tobacco, alcohol and illegal drugs), higher rates of non-communicable diseases, depression and suicide, and increased exposure to environmental risks. Poor children are more likely to die by the age of five years and to suffer from acute respiratory infections, diarrhea, congenital anomalies and chronic diseases. (source)
There’s a correlation between poverty and depression, as this Gallup Poll points out. 30% of poor Americans have been diagnosed with depression, compared to the overall total of 17% of Americans:
From this it’s not clear if the burden of poverty causes depression, or if it’s more likely that the burden of depression causes poverty. Probably it’s a bit of both. In any case, this echoes the link between wealth and happiness.
The same is true for other diseases, such as asthma. Children with asthma are almost twice as likely as all children to be below the poverty line, and less than half as likely to live at 4-times the poverty line or higher:
The correlation between poverty rates on the one hand and rates of disease or health outcomes on the other has to do with the cost of healthcare. Poor people have less resources to buy healthcare, which translates into worse health outcomes. Here’s a graph showing the percentage of US adults aged 18-64 who did not get needed prescription drugs because of their cost, by poverty status:
An important cause of this is inadequate health insurance.
Life expectancy – an important indicator of health – in a poor neighborhood of Glasgow, U.K. , is on average 20 years shorter than in the richer parts of the same city:
Black males in the US, who are generally and relatively more at risk of being poor, have a life expectancy of 69, compared to 87 for Asian females.