Income and Social Status
Income and social status play the biggest role in having a long and healthy life. Income has a direct influence on the type of housing we can afford, the quality of the food we eat, access to post-secondary education and more. The higher your income is, the healthier you feel and the higher your life expectancy will be.
The following graph shows the increase of life expectancy for men and women in Canada, as income increases from left to right.
Life expectancy at birth, by sex, neighbourhood income quintiles, 2005–2007 Source: Statistics Canada. Vital Statistics. Special tabulation
- Education and Literacy
Education leads to higher paying jobs, which leads to better health and increased life expectancy. The 2006 unemployment rate for those who didn’t graduate high school was 11.1, versus 7.3 for those who did graduate high school1. The annual earnings for a high school graduate are also 15% higher than the annual earnings of someone who didn’t graduate1.
Education increases your ability to read and write, and assists you in understanding the world and the factors that shape your health. Skill in reading and writing can also help you make better decisions about your health.
- Employment, Job security, and Working conditions
Having a job provides you with an income, a sense of security, and a personal identity. Unemployment, balancing multiple jobs or an unsafe work environment can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, depression and anxiety.
- Early Childhood Development
Positive experiences in early childhood can set you up for success later in life. Child health can be positively impacted by mom being healthy during her pregnancy, intake of nutritious food, good housing conditions, positive social support and early education.
Unfortunately, 15% of Canadian children live in poverty and 17% of parents don’t have access to affordable early childhood education2.
- Food Security
When someone is food insecure, it means that they struggle with access to food, both in its quantity and quality. Food insecurity can arise from the loss of a job, the addition of a new mouth to feed, a change in the number of parents in a family, and more.
Food is a basic human need. The ability to access affordable healthy food and have access to understandable information about food has a positive impact on health.
- Safe and Affordable Housing
Housing is considered affordable when you are spending less than 30% of your income on your rent or mortgage. Unfortunately, 42% of renters in Elgin County are spending more than 30% of their income on rent.
High housing costs limit the amount of money left over for things like food, child care and transportation.
Living in housing with mould, infestations, overcrowding or poor heating creates stress and leads to many different poor health outcomes.
- Social Support Network
Social support can come from many different sources. Friends, family, and neighbours can provide support during tough times and can make a positive impact on mental, emotional and physical health.
You can also receive support in the form benefits, programs and supports from local or federal agencies. For example: employment training, employment insurance, social assistance, disability benefits, and family and child benefits. Social support can protect you and provide a safety net when going through life changes such as unemployment, a new baby, or changes in health status.
Visit The Public Health Agency of Canada website to read about all 12 determinants of health and uncover the link they have to your physical health.
1. Berger, J. & Parkin, A. (2009). The Value of a Degree: Education, Employment and Earnings in Canada. In J. Berger, A. Motte, & A. Parkin (Eds.), The price of knowledge: Access and student finance in Canada (4th ed.) (7-23). Montreal, QC: Canada Millenium Scholarship Foundation
2. Mikkonen, J., & Raphael, D. (2010). Social Determinants of Health: The Canadian Facts. Toronto: York University School of Health Policy and Management.
This 5 minute video presents ideas to alter conversations and how we talk about health. The video highlights that health is about much more than access to medical care. Health begins where we live, learn, work and play. Everyone has different opportunities for health, largely influenced by our social and economic conditions.
Using this idea of health, the video emphasizes that we all have a role to play when it comes to creating equal opportunities for health. It encourages all of us – students, teachers, families, farmers, business people, seniors, service providers, and community leaders – to Start a Conversation about Health… And Not Talk About Health Care at All.”
1. Health improves at every rung up the income and social ladder.
2. Everyone has different opportunities for health that are largely determined by our social and economic conditions.
3. We all have a role to play to Take Action to improve our community’s health.
Video Discussion Guide
We encourage everyone to watch & share the video, and start a conversation of your own! Check out the Video Discussion Guide resource to help start the conversation.
Find out more about what impacts your health with the following resources:
The Social Determinants of Health: The Canadian Facts
Provides more evidence on the social determinants of health in Canada.
Health Care in Canada: What Makes Us Sick?
This document details discussion that occurred across the country to determine what Canadian’s believe had the biggest impact on their health.
Key Concepts of the Social Determinants of Health
From the World Health Organization
What are the Social Determinants of Health?
From the National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health