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Disability and Death for Poorer People

A recent study that analyzed data from the United States and England recently found a correlation between poverty and higher rates of disability and death.  The study examined almost 20,000 people between ages 54 and 76.  

Over a 10-year period, Americans aged 54 to 64 who were in the lowest income bracket were at a 48% risk for developing a disability and a 17% risk of dying prematurely.  Similar results were observed in the United Kingdom.  

Dr. Lena Makaroun, the study’s lead author, stated: “Seeing similar results in both countries, in both age groups, suggests that [additional] health care or [additional] financial benefits later in life may not be enough” when it comes to those who enter their later years in poor financial health.

Each person in the study was evaluated based on their total assets, including real estate, retirement savings, investment accounts, and vehicles, minus their total debts.  Disability status was determined based on an individual’s ability to bathe, eat, get dressed, get in and out of bed, and use the bathroom on their own.

Although the study could not prove that poverty actually causes early death or disability, it suggests that the main stressors associated with poverty, like trauma, sleep problems, and unstable housing, may take a toll on people.