How Income Affects Health

At each step up the income ladder, Canadians have less sickness, live longer lives and have better health.  There is strong and growing evidence that higher social and economic status is associated with better health. In fact, these two factors seem to be the most important determinants of health. The healthiest populations are those in societies which are prosperous and have a fair distribution of wealth.  Many studies show that people living in low income are likely to have higher rates of just about any disease.

Why is higher income associated with better health?

Research indicates that how much control people have over life circumstances, especially stressful situations, and their discretion to act are the key influences for improved health. Higher income generally results in more control and reduced stress.

Higher income provides access to better living conditions such as safe housing and the ability to buy enough healthy food.  A number of recent studies show that limited options and poor coping skills for dealing with stress increase the chances of getting a range of diseases due to pathways that involve the immune and hormonal systems.

Self rated general health in Elgin County

Self-rated health has a clear pattern along income lines. Excellent and very good health was reported by a greater amount of the population in the upper income group than the middle or lower income groups.

income chart

Age-Standardized Proportion of the Population by Self-Rated Health, Elgin St. Thomas, Ontario and Peer Group A, 2011-2012.

 

Sources:

http://publications.gc.ca/collections/Collection/H88-3-30-2001/pdfs/other/strat_e.pdf

https://www.cma.ca/Assets/assets-library/document/fr/advocacy/What-makes-us-sick_en.pdf

Community Health Status Report 2015