Income inequality unhealthy for Americans.


"Income inequality" already has become a buzz phrase for the campaigns leading up to the 2016 elections. Likely candidates and pundits on both ends of the political spectrum have begun to talk about how fairness, social justice, and the cost of health care insurance are contributing to the large and growing gap between the rich and poor. However, researchers at the School of Public Health at the University of California, Los Angeles, point out another disturbing impact of income inequality: its effect on people's health.

It long has been recognized that, even beyond access to high-quality health care, income is a key factor in determining how healthy people are. The researchers maintain that the degree of income inequality can lead to a long list of health issues, including shortened life expectancy and poorer self-reported health status.

Linda Rosenstock, professor of health policy and management and former dean of the School of Public Health, as well as the report's senior author, says lower- and sometimes middle-income wage workers often face additional workplace stresses that take a toll on their health--among them, lower pay, lack of paid sick leave, an inability to find fulltime work, and the need to work double shifts to make ends meet. Those challenges can lead to high levels of stress, exhaustion, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and lower life expectancy--and the effects can trickle down to impact...

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