MUMBAI: Just as union finance minister Arun Jaitely categorically stated in his budgetary speech on Wednesday that poverty is linked to ill-health, a study in the Lancet medical journal scientifically nails this correlation.
A study looking at the health of 1.7 million people from the UK, France, Switzerland, Portugal, Italy, USA and Australia, showed that people with low socioeconomic status were 1.5 times more likely than their wealthier counterparts to die before turning 85 years old. There is no such similar data available for India so far.
The study also estimated that that 41% of men and 27% of women had low socioeconomic status and that this was associated with reduced life expectancy of 2.1 years.
“Low socioeconomic status is linked to significant reductions in life expectancy and should be considered a major risk factor for ill health and early death in national and global health policies,” said the study of 1.7 million people published by The Lancet.
“Although socioeconomic status is one of the strongest predictors of illness and early death worldwide, it is often overlooked in health policies,” said a press release put out by the journal.
The study’s lead author Dr Silvia Stringhini of the Lausanne University Hospital in Switzerland has been quoted as saying, “Given the huge impact of socioeconomic status on health, it’s vital that governments accept it as a major risk factor and stop excluding it from health policy.”
The study underlined the need for government to focus on reducing poverty, improving education and creating safe home, school and work environments. “By doing this, socioeconomic status could be targeted and improved, leading to better wealth and health for many,” he said.