In many ways, that income should be an important determinant of health is more plausible in poor countries than in rich ones. When many people do not have enough money to buy food, adults and children often suffer the short and long-term effects of a poor diet, and parents who do not have enough money to feed their children report severe consequences for their own wellbeing. Anne Case has used data from a new integrated survey of health and economic wellbeing in South Africa to examine the impact of the South African old age pension on the health of pensioners, and of the prime aged adults and children who live with them. Her work finds evidence of a large causal effect of income on health status -- working at least in part through sanitation and living standards, in part through nutritional status, and in part through the reduction of psychosocial stress. The pension is used to upgrade household facilities, some of which have consequences for health. The household's water source being on-site and the presence of a flush toilet are both significantly more likely, the greater the number of years of pension receipt in the household. In addition, the presence of a pensioner in the household on average reduces the probability of an adult skipping a meal by 20 percent, and the presence of two pensioners reduces the probability by 40 percent. All adults in the survey were asked about depression, which is inextricably linked to stress and health status. For households pooling income, the presence of pensioners significantly reduces reported depression, and the effect is larger the greater the number of pensioners. Governments interested in improving health status may find the provision of cash benefits to be one of the most effective policy tools available to them. And cash provides a yardstick against which other health interventions can be measured.
At a time when research shows that being poor is highly correlated with poor health, hospitals and doctors are following privately insured patients to more affluent areas rather than remaining anchored in communities with the greatest health care needs.
Epidemiologists argue that the economists' explanations at best can explain only a small part of the gradient; they argue that socioeconomic status is a fundamental cause of health. They frequently endorse measures to improve health through manipulating socioeconomic status, not only by improving education but also by increasing or redistributing incomes. Fiscal policy is seen as an instrument of public health, an argument that is reinforced by ideas, particularly associated with Richard Wilkinson, that income inequality, like air pollution or toxic radiation, is itself a health hazard. Even if economic policy has no direct effect on health, the positive correlation between health and economic status implies that social inequalities in wellbeing are wider than would be recognized by looking at income alone.
A Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel analysis of data from the largest U.S. metropolitan areas shows that people in poor neighborhoods are less healthy than their more affluent neighbors but more likely to live in areas with physician shortages and closed hospitals.
Richer, better-educated people live longer than poorer, less-educated people. According to calculations from the National Longitudinal Mortality Survey which tracks the mortality of people originally interviewed in the CPS and other surveys, people whose family income in 1980 was greater than $50,000, putting them in the top 5 percent of incomes, had a life-expectancy at all ages that was about 25 percent longer than those in the bottom 5 percent, whose family income was less than $5,000. Lower mortality and morbidity is associated with almost any positive indicator of socioeconomic status, a relationship that has come to be known as "the gradient." African-Americans have higher but Hispanic Americans lower mortality rates than whites; the latter is known as the "Hispanic paradox," so strong is the presumption that socioeconomic status is protective of health. Not only are wealth, income, education, and occupational grade protective, but so are several more exotic indicators. One study found that life-spans were longer on larger gravestones, another that winners of Oscars live nearly four years longer than those who were nominated but did not win.
Pigs raised on pasture have 300 percent more vitamin E and 74 percent more selenium (a vital antioxidant) in their milk than pigs raised in confinement, according to Don C. Mahan Professor of Animal Sciences at Ohio State University. This bounty of nutrients promotes healthier litters, shorter farrowing times, and good milk let down. The pigs' meat is enriched with vitamins as well. Fortifying the pigs' diet with synthetic vitamins, the standard practice in confinement operations, does not achieve the same results because the artificial vitamins are more poorly absorbed.
16. And behold, one came up to him, saying, "Teacher, what good deed mustI do, to have eternal life?" 17. And he said to him, "Why do you askme about what is good? One there is who is good. If you would enter life, keepthe commandments." 18. He said to him, "Which?" And Jesus said,"You shall not kill, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal,You shall not bear false witness, 19. Honor your father and mother, and, Youshall love your neighbor as yourself." 20. The young man said to him,"All these I have observed; what do I still lack?" 21. Jesus said tohim, "If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to thepoor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me." 22. Whenthe young man heard this he went away sorrowful; for he had great possessions.23. And Jesus said to his disciples, "Truly, I say to you, it will be hardfor a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24. Again I tell you, it iseasier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man toenter the kingdom of God." 25. When the disciples heard this they weregreatly astonished, saying, "Who then can be saved?" 26. But Jesuslooked at them and said to them, "With men this is impossible, but with Godall things are possible." 27. Then Peter said in reply, "Lo, we haveleft everything and followed you. What then shall we have?" 28. Jesus saidto them, "Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of man shallsit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelvethrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29. And every one who has lefthouses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for myname's sake, will receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life. 30. But manythat are first will be last, and the last first.