How does money influence health?

JRF-logoWhy do people in poverty tend to have poorer health?

This study looks at hundreds of theories to consider how income influences health. There is a graded association between money and health – increased income equates to better health. But the reasons are debated.

Researchers have reviewed theories from 272 wide-ranging papers, most of which examined the complex interactions between people’s income and their health throughout their lives.

Key points

This research identifies four main ways money affects people’s wellbeing:

  • Material: Money buys goods and services that improve health. The more money families have, the better the goods they can buy.
  • Psychosocial: Managing on a low income is stressful. Comparing oneself to others and feeling at the bottom of the social ladder can be distressing, which can lead to biochemical changes in the body, eventually causing ill health.
  • Behavioural: For various reasons, people on low incomes are more likely to adopt unhealthy behaviours – smoking and drinking, for example – while those on higher incomes are more able to afford healthier lifestyles.
  • Reverse causation (poor health leads to low income): Health may affect income by preventing people from taking paid employment. Childhood health may also affect educational outcomes, limiting job opportunities and potential earnings.

To open the full report please click here.

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How does government policy contribute to loneliness?

JRF-logoWe need to address the epidemic of loneliness in our midst, says Tracey Robbins. Loneliness not only kills people; it kills communities too.

 

Has our society already died? The challenge for our society is that the policy and strategies put in place by government unwittingly hinder those on the ground trying to bring people, neighbourhoods and communities together.

Three years ago over forty people living in two neighbourhoods in York, two in Bradford, set off to find out what causes loneliness in the areas where they live.

 

video updated 04-11-2013

For the full JRF article please click here.

Personal Well-being in the UK, 2012/13

well-being-logoPersonal well-being, people’s thoughts and feelings about their own quality of life, is an important aspect of national well-being and is used by ONS to supplement other economic, social and environmental statistics to provide a statistical picture of the nation’s well-being.

Key Points

  • According to the latest findings from the ONS Annual Population Survey, there were small improvements in personal well-being in the UK between 2011/12 and 2012/13.
  • The percentage of people reporting higher levels of life satisfaction, feeling that the things they do in life are worthwhile and happiness levels all increased while the percentage reporting higher levels of anxiety declined.
  • Between 2011/12 and 2012/13 the proportion of people rating their life satisfaction as 7 or more out of 10 rose from 75.9% to 77.0%. There was also a reduction in the proportion of people rating their anxiety at a higher level of 6 or more out of 10 falling from 21.8% to 20.9%.
  • The data show differences in personal well-being between groups of the population. For example, people aged 45 to 49 rated their life satisfaction lower than any other age group and Black people lower than any other ethnic group. There were no significant changes between the years for unemployed people whose average life satisfaction remained below those in employment.

  • Other non-official sources show an improvement in personal well-being for similar periods. They also show that life satisfaction in the UK changed less between 2007 and 2011 than other European countries.

Measuring National Well-being – Health, 2013

obs-blog-ons-logoThis article analyses by age and other variables two of the current measures of national well-being: ‘satisfaction with health’ and ‘evidence of mental ill-health (GHQ)’ and their relationship to well-being.

Key points

In the UK in 2010–11 for those aged 16 and over:

  • Two thirds (66%) of people were satisfied with their health with a slightly higher proportion of men than women.
  • Satisfaction with health reduced to 53% of those aged 80 and over.

  • Around a fifth (19%) of individuals had some indication of anxiety or depression with a higher proportion of women than men and a higher proportion of those aged between 40 and 59 or aged 80 and over.

  • Some evidence of anxiety and depression occurred in a higher percentage of those who were divorced or not in paid work or dissatisfied with their health or who were caring for someone else in the household or who were living on their own.
  • Around three in ten (28 %) reported restrictions in moderate daily activities: the percentage reporting restrictions increased considerably with age from 13% of those aged 16 to 24 to 77% of those aged 80 and over.
  • About 14% of those who reported no limitation in moderate activities showed some symptoms of anxiety or depression compared to 26% of those with a little limitation and nearly 41% of those with a lot of limitation.

To open the full article click here.