Income and Health

For individuals, income is one of the strongest and most consistent predictors of health and disease in public health research literature.  Research finds that people with higher incomes generally enjoy better health and live longer than people with lower incomes.  The relationship between income and health consistently (although not invariably) appears as a gradient, with the poor experiencing the worst health, but also where the health of those with modest incomes is worse than the health of those with the highest incomes.  In other words, on average, the more money you make, the better your overall health. 

This relationship between health and income is not just about individual access to medical care, but how income affects a range of individual and community opportunities for health.  Individuals and communities with higher incomes are more likely to have safe homes and neighborhoods, full-service grocery stores with healthy foods, safe spaces for physical activity, and high-quality schools. As a result, those with higher incomes are more likely to live longer, healthier lives while those living in communities of poverty face conditions that lead to poor health including unsafe housing, lack of access to nutritious foods, less leisure time for physical activity, poorer education and more overall stress.

Source: Minnesota Department of Health, Center for Health Equity.  “White Paper on Income and Health.” 2014. (accessed July 6, 2015) 

Those with higher incomes are more likely to live longer, healthier lives. More income leads to resources that promote better health, including access to health care, nutritious food, safe housing, and nurturing neighborhoods. On the other hand, those living in poverty face a number of hardships that lead to poor health. Poverty also has a significant impact on children and can affect health across generations. Poor children are more likely to suffer poor health, affecting their ability to do well in school and eventually earn a decent wage.

Source: Santa Clara County Public Health. "Santa Clara County Public Health. Health and Social Equity in Santa Clara County.” 2011. (accessed February 5, 2014)


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Additional SDOH Resources

Center for Health Statistics
Minnesota Department of Health
Golden Rule Building, 3rd Floor
85 East Seventh Place
PO Box 64882
St. Paul, Minnesota, U.S.A. 55164-0882
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Updated Monday, April 25, 2016 at 03:42PM