In our society, wealth makes health. People who have socioeconomic challenges or live in poverty have shorter lifespans than the rich, with a difference of 15 years between men in the top 1 percent of income and men in the poorest 1 percent. The situation is not expected to improve with the continued spread of the income gap.
Economics is, however, just one of many interacting factors that can make or break health. Ethnicity, education level and sex are certainly relevant, as the breathtakingly tragic outcome disparities for black women giving birth in the United States demonstrate. Other important factors that create health disparities that transcend income measures include disability status, geographic location and occupation.
Margarita Birnbaum is a Dallas-based independent journalist who has written about heart disease and stroke trends among Black, Hispanics and white adults in the U.S. In her role as AHCJ's Health Equity Core Topic Leader, Birnbaum builds upon the extensive library of resources that help journalists give readers context about the state of health equity in the U.S.