THE PROBLEM: WHY DO WE CARE ABOUT ECONOMIC INEQUITY?
Study after study indicates that there is a link between our country's widening income gap and population health indicators, including life expectancy. In 2013, the National Academies of Sciences explored this subject and released a research report. The title says it all: "US Health in International Perspectives: Shorter Lives, Poorer Health."
Despite spending more money on health care than the rest of the world combined, Americans die earlier and experience more illness than our counterparts in other developed nations - and even many developing nations.
Studies over the last four decades have shown that more equal societies have lower mortality, longer lives, and more well-being. Inequality kills. It is like a colorless, odorless, invisible highly toxic gas that kills us from the usual conditions we die of. And we are totally unaware of it.
“While the effect of economic inequity cannot be completely divorced from the effects of other social determinants of health, economic inequity can be considered as its own, or an additional, social determinant of health. Behavioral interventions alone are insufficient to improve population health, as many behaviors that lead to poor health are closely linked with income and socioeconomic status. Therefore, economic inequity can be thought of as an upstream social determinant driving higher levels of unhealthy behavior downstream. WPSR recognizes the fact that economic inequity leads to poorer health, as well as a need for a multipronged approach to these unjust outcomes of inequity”
“It’s never been more important for WPSR, as an organization of health care professionals and advocates, to adopt a strategic policy to address economic inequity as a root cause of poor health in Washington state and nationally”
Read the rest of our position statement here: