Identify a true statement about the relationship between wealth and well-being

Identify a true statement about the relationship between wealth and well-being

Substantial evidence links greater wealth with better health. Longitudinal studies have documented strong, pervasive links between income and multiple health indicators across the life span. Although the relationship between wealth and health has been less frequently studied, a growing body of evidence reveals that greater levels of wealth also predict better health outcomes.

In 2007, a systematic review of 29 studies found that people with greater wealth generally live longer and have lower rates of chronic disease and better functional status throughout life. More recent studies have found longitudinal associations between greater wealth and many favorable health outcomes, including lower mortality, higher life expectancy, and decreased risks of obesity, smoking, hypertension, and asthma.

Produced in partnership with the University of California, San Francisco, this report examines the links between wealth and health equity, with data from recent studies showing how a country’s overall health is linked not only with its overall level of wealth, but also with how wealth is distributed. The authors describe promising strategies for building wealth among groups of people for whom access to wealth-generating opportunities have been historically limited.

  • Evidence links greater wealth with better health. Wealth and income provide material benefits, such as healthier living conditions and access to health care, and protect people from chronic stress.

  • Parents’ wealth shapes their children’s educational, economic and social opportunities, which in turn shape their children’s health throughout life. Both poor health and economic disadvantage can compound over a person’s lifetime and across generations. Challenges young children face today—and into adulthood—can reflect their parents’ lack of opportunities

  • How wealth is distributed matters. Countries where wealth and income gaps are smaller are also generally healthier. Although the United States is one of the world’s most affluent nations, it is also the most economically unequal. This large wealth gap may be one reason why Americans are less healthy than people in other affluent nations, including many that are not as wealthy as the United States.

  • The distribution of wealth in the United States has become increasingly unequal. The percentage of U.S. households with zero or negative wealth has increased to 21.2 percent (in 2016). A growing number of families have no cushion to fall back on if faced with job loss or unexpected expenses.

  • A long history of discrimination and structural racism explains the wealth gap among people in America. Race-based unfair treatment built into institutions, policies, and practices—such as residential segregation in impoverished neighborhoods; discrimination in bank lending to residents of largely minority neighborhoods; and discriminatory policing and sentencing practices—continue to play a major role in wealth inequality between people of color and white people in the United States.

  • Building wealth where opportunities have been historically limited is essential for advancing health equity. Closing the wealth gap in this country will require new policies and programs at the state and national levels, and across sectors, including in education, housing, banking, and the justice system.

The full report includes a listing of existing wealth-building initiatives, such as providing a living wage, job training, rental and homebuyer assistance, microloans to start or grow small businesses, and adult financial education and coaching. These strategies and more are described and can help reduce the growing gaps in wealth and health.

Wellbeing is not just the absence of disease or illness. It’s a complex combination of a person's physical, mental, emotional and social health factors. Wellbeing is strongly linked to happiness and life satisfaction. In short, wellbeing could be described as how you feel about yourself and your life.

Factors that influence wellbeing

Every aspect of your life influences your state of wellbeing. Researchers investigating happiness have found the following factors enhance a person's wellbeing:

  • Happy intimate relationship with a partner.
  • Network of close friends.
  • Enjoyable and fulfilling career.
  • Enough money.
  • Regular exercise.
  • Nutritional diet.
  • Enough sleep.
  • Spiritual or religious beliefs.
  • Fun hobbies and leisure pursuits.
  • Healthy self-esteem.
  • Optimistic outlook.
  • Realistic and achievable goals.
  • Sense of purpose and meaning.
  • A sense of belonging.
  • The ability to adapt to change.
  • Living in a fair and democratic society.

The factors that influence wellbeing are interrelated. For example, a job provides not just money but purpose, goals, friendships and a sense of belonging. Some factors also make up for the lack of others. For example, a good marriage can compensate for a lack of friendships, while religious beliefs may help a person come to terms with physical illness.

Wealth is not the key

Money is linked to wellbeing because having enough money improves living conditions and increases social status. However, happiness may increase with income but only to a point.

Many people believe that wealth is a fast track to happiness. But it's not true. Various international studies have shown that it’s the quality of our personal relationships, not the size of our bank balance, which has the greatest effect on our state of wellbeing.

Believing that money is the key to happiness can also harm a person's wellbeing. For example, a person who chooses to work a lot of overtime misses out on time with family, friends and leisure activities.

The added stress of long working hours may also reduce a person's life satisfaction. Research shows that people who chase 'extrinsic' goals like money and fame are more anxious, depressed and dissatisfied than people who value 'intrinsic' goals like close relationships with loved ones.

Wellbeing can be elusive

Wellbeing is important, but seems a little hard to come by. One American study into mental health found that, while one in four respondents was depressed, only one in five was happy – the rest fell somewhere between, neither happy nor depressed. An Australian consumer study into wellbeing showed that:

  • 58% wish they could spend more time on improving their health and wellbeing.
  • 79% of parents with children aged less than 18 years of age wish they could spend more time on improving their health and wellbeing.
  • 83% are prepared to pay more money for products or services that enhance their feelings of wellbeing.

Measuring national wellbeing

Measuring wellbeing in a population is difficult because the interpretation of wellbeing is so subjective – how you feel about your life largely depends on the way you see it. Like the saying goes, one person's problem is another person's challenge. Australian researchers try to measure wellbeing to keep tabs on living conditions. A typical approach to measuring wellbeing is to count the number of individuals affected by a particular factor.

For example, it is helpful to keep track of how many people:

  • Have cancer.
  • Are single, married or divorced.
  • Exercise on a regular basis.
  • Smoke or drink.
  • Are on unemployment benefits.
  • Are victims of crime.
  • Are unable to read or write.

Keeping track of a population's wellbeing helps governments to decide on particular policies. For example, knowing the average weekly income of a population helps to set the 'poverty line', which may then influence decisions on social welfare reform.

Results depend on what is measured

Survey results tend to differ depending on what was measured. For example, an Australian survey of young people found that eight in every 10 reported feeling satisfied with their lives, including how they felt about their work, studies, income and relationships. However, this positive picture is contradicted by another survey, which found that about half of all young Australians are grappling with a difficult problem such as depression or alcohol abuse. Wellbeing is an unclear concept that is hard to pin down with graphs, charts and statistics.

How to achieve wellbeing

  • Develop and maintain strong relationships with family and friends.
  • Make regular time available for social contact.
  • Try to find work that you find enjoyable and rewarding, rather than just working for the best pay.
  • Eat wholesome, nutritious foods.
  • Do regular physical activity.
  • Become involved in activities that interest you.
  • Join local organisations or clubs that appeal to you.
  • Set yourself achievable goals and work towards them.
  • Try to be optimistic and enjoy each day.

Where to get help