Monday, August 11, 2008

Growing disparity between rich and poor in the U.S.

The United States no longer boasts anywhere near the world’s longest life expectancy. It doesn’t even make the top 40. In this and many other ways, the richest nation on earth is not the healthiest. [Majid] Ezzati’s finding is unsettling on its face, but scholars find further cause for concern in the pattern of health disparities. Poor health is not distributed evenly across the population, but concentrated among the disadvantaged.

Disparities in health tend to fall along income lines everywhere: the poor generally get sicker and die sooner than the rich. But in the United States, the gap between the rich and the poor is far wider than in most other developed democracies, and it is getting wider. That is true both before and after taxes: the United States also does less than most other rich democracies to redistribute income from the rich to the poor.

—Elizabeth Gudrais, in Harvard Magazine (pdf)

1 comment:

Jonathan Watson said...

the United States also does less than most other rich democracies to redistribute income from the rich to the poor

It's not economic poverty so much as social poverty. I just spent two years living in Steubenville, OH, which has got to be one of the poorest, dumpiest cities in the US. It wasn't that my friend and neighbor couldn't get food or healthcare (he had adequate, taxpayer-funded amounts of both), it was that the culture in which he grew up gave him nothing more to do with his life than drink and fornicate.

I'm not making an argument for economic libertarianism, just observing that income distribution did not nor could ever solve his (or the rest of the town's) problems.