• Dr Frantz Pierre-Louis & Lloyd Pierre-Louis

Wealth and Health

According to the definition proposed by various internet search engines like Wikipedia, Wealth is the abundance of valuable resources or valuable material possessions. For an individual, wealth can therefore be constituted of a combination of income, property assets, inheritance, etc.

Notwithstanding the plurality of definitions proposed for the word health, it would be very hard to argue that health is not a valuable resource (if not the most valuable resource an individual may ever possess in this life). But we’ll get to this point later.

According to an article published in 2008 in the Finance and Economics section of the journal The Economist:

‘’The link between health and income seems pretty uncontroversial. After all, healthy people can work longer and harder than sick people. Healthier children are likely to stay in school longer and learn more, earning more when they enter the workforce. Even across countries the relationship seems clear: those with better health are generally richer, and those that improve their citizens' health grow faster.’’

Moreover, the harsh plain reality expressed through statistics tends to draw an unequivocal trend in the correlation between wealth (income, assets, etc.) and health. And not surprisingly, those statistics even go as far as suggesting that not only health, but longevity goes hand to hand with the amount or level of wealth. As a matter of fact, in an article entitled How are income and wealth linked to health and longevity? which was published in 2005, was stated the following:

‘’The greater one’s income, the lower one’s likelihood of disease and premature death. Studies show that Americans at all income levels are less healthy than those with incomes higher than their own. Not only is income (the earnings and other money acquired each year) associated with better health, but wealth (net worth and assets) affects health as well.’’

This same article went even further in the reinforcement of this thesis by suggesting that the impact of income (wealth) on health even transcends many other racial and ethnical affiliations or identities which often categorize people differently with regards to many other comparatives:

‘’Income is a driving force behind the striking health disparities that many minorities experience. In fact, although blacks and Hispanics have higher rates of disease than non-Hispanic whites, these differences are “dwarfed by the disparities identified between high- and low-income populations within each racial/ ethnic group.”4 That is, higher-income blacks, Hispanics, and Native Americans have better health than members of their groups with less income, and this income gradient appears to be more strongly tied to health than their race or ethnicity.’’

In other words, when it comes to determining how wealth impacts health overall on a cultural point of view, it is the primacy of income over race, ethnicity or any other cultural identity.

That being said, when health is actually considered to be a valuable resource, health becomes wealth as a matter of perception. Thus, on a more personal note, the only difference between wealth and health is a ‘’w’’ or an ‘’h’’, since the ‘’ealth’’ is the common ground, the theater of the perceptive battle which constantly forces these antagonists to reach a consensus in order to find its genuine identity… And which identity ultimately ends up to be one or the other obviously… Finally, often the wealthiest on earth would rather trade, at any cost, his ‘’w’’ for an ‘’h’’ when laying on his deathbed, while the poorest would probably unthoughtfully rush to give up his ‘’h’’ just for a glimpse of a ‘’w’’… However, it doesn’t always work like that in real life (which is not just an alphabetical puzzle to resolve), and yet, this promiscuous relationship between wealth and health is one of its most sensitive issue to acknowledge and explore more profoundly… But that is another topic!






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