This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Make More Money; Live Longer

It seems obvious that those with higher incomes can afford more and better health care and thus will have a higher life expectancy. But we tend to think of these relationships in the abstract. When they are exposed in your own area, they take on more poignancy. Thanks to @PopGeog for linking me to a story that I actually had heard a few days ago on the local PBS station (KPBS--here at San Diego State University), put together by the local (which is also located here at SDSU):
The wealthiest men in San Diego County can expect to live almost a decade longer than their poorest counterparts.That’s one of the findings from the Health Inequality Project, a report written by researchers from Stanford, Harvard and MIT. In 2014, the most recent year available, a 40-year-old San Diego County man in the top quarter of income earners could expect to live to almost 90. A man of the same age in the bottom quarter of income would only expect to live to 80.
That is really a pretty astounding difference. You might expect that in a comparison between two countries, but it is certainly less expected in a comparison within a metropolitan area of the world's richest country! 
Despite the gap, the San Diego region ranked as the sixth-best area in the country on life expectancy for the bottom quarter of income earners based on a 14-year average. Robert Fluegge is a pre-doctoral fellow with the Equality of Opportunity Project at Stanford University, which produced the income and life expectancy analysis. He said income can be a good, if not necessarily direct, predictor of health. “It’s not like I wake up one day $10,000 richer and all of a sudden I have no cholesterol anymore,” he said. “Income is sort of a proxy for … your environment, the way you live your life, the access to some services that you may have or information that you may have.”
And the important part of that story is that the differences start at the youngest ages and continue through life. Pick your parents carefully... 

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