Wealthier is not necessarily healthier according to a study done over a period of almost 55 years, spanning 22 countries. Reuters reports that when one of President Obama's key economic advisers suggested that wealth means health, he wasn't entirely right. In essence, this statement overlooks the complexities of economic growth, suggesting that an economically wealthy society would also be gaining and retaining proper resources to provide for that nation. The study finds that in some cases, the health of a population has even worsened as a country's national economy has grown. The study considered 22 countries in Latin America from 1960 to 2007, measuring "life expectancy, infant mortality rates and tuberculosis mortality rates -- against gross domestic product (GDP) per capita as a measure of economic growth."
The main reason for the disparity between wealth and health is because of the distribution of wealth, where poverty and inequality between economic status exists between individuals in a society. "Our study found that wealth is not enough. If policymakers want to improve health, they need to look more closely at the impact that they are having on individual living standards." The study finds that when inequality in a society or population is high, and the GDP rose, it had little to no effect on the decrease of infant mortality rates and TB death rates. But when inequality lessened across a country, the rise in GDP had a much greater positive effect on the three measures tested.
I hope that our nation's leaders and decision-makers can look to this study as a great indicator of how we should look at economic growth in a time when health reform policies are being reviewed. This study shows that even in a economically healthy society, every aspect of a nation's well being should be paid attention, as important resources such as access to medical care, and health education should be provided for every single person that populates a nation, regardless of the individual's economic status. I have always been a supporter of fighting poverty, and this is one new reason why. As they say, money can't buy you happiness, and now we know, it may not even be able to buy us health.