Many people often wonder whether their financial status can affect their health. According to Professor James Nazroo, the short answer is yes. Nazroo is a Sociology Professor at the University of Manchester. He is also a Partner Investigator at the Centre of Excellence in Population Ageing Research (CEPAR).
He recently gave a lecture on inequality in later life as a guest at the University of NSW. Nazroo’s research reveals that there are considerable later life inequalities that can affect your health and wellbeing.
The inequalities exist in wealth, ethnicity, class and gender. They can have dramatic effects on your life expectancy, your chances of having poor health and your likelihood of being depressed.
Nazroo presented the findings of his research into population ageing and health in Manchester. Local councils in Manchester seek to address later life inequalities by changing health and social reform policies. The World Health Organization (WHO) is helping with this process. Nazroo references data from the UK but states that it is highly relevant to Australia. Providing solutions to the ageing population in Australia is currently a challenge.
Inequality & Survival
An interesting observation is that having extra funds in your account may increase your chances of living longer. This is despite the availability of public healthcare. In the guest lecture, Nazroo highlighted the survival rate differences between wealthy and poor study subjects over a period of six years.
The study revealed that only 4.5 % of women in the wealthiest fifth of the population had passed away after the six-year period. On the other hand, 17 % of women in the poorest fifth had died. The trend was the same for the men. As such, you are two-thirds more likely to pass away if you fall in the poorest fifth of the population, compared to the wealthiest fifth.
According to Nazroo’s findings, the wealthy do not just live longer but are also healthier. The UK research indicates significant differences in health with the wealthy being much healthier than the poor. The health of the wealthiest half of the study population above 75 years matched the health of the poorest half of the study population aged 60 to 65 years.
Inequality & Well-Being
The researchers observed how depressed the study participants were as a measure of their well-being. The poorest fifth were more depressed than the wealthiest fifth of the study population. The differences in overall well-being were profound. The depression rating for the poorest fifth of the population aged 65 to 75 was much higher than the rates of the wealthiest fifth in all age groups. The social class you belong to also influences your health. This is because it dictates the social, cultural and civic activities that you engage in later life. Nazroo’s findings on social detachment illustrate this point. If you belong to the wealthiest fifth of the population, you are about a fifth less likely to become socially detached over time.
The Importance of Nazroo’s Finding
Professor Nazroo’s research indicates that everyone needs to be able to afford healthcare regardless of their financial status. This is despite the current inclination toward self-funded healthcare. While equally distributing wealth is not a viable solution, the distribution should not be as skewed as it is. For instance, in Manchester (where the study was conducted), the wealthiest half of the population owned 75 % of the wealth.
How To Break The Trend
There are several ways to improve your health and well-being in later life. Volunteering is a great option. You reap significant health benefits when you are socially engaged. Engage in regular physical activity. Exercise will help you keep fit and maintain good health.
Continuing to work after retirement is also an effective way to combat depression and poor health. Even when you retire, start looking after your home. Doing so improves depression and promotes overall wellbeing.