Unnatural Causes

This broadcast documentary looks at the relationship between income (and other status considerations) and health, including life expectancy. Statistically, your income is strongly associated with how long you’ll live.   And recent statistics indicate that Americans’ life expectancy is lower than that of 29 other countries.

One of my favorite points regarding health care is made:

NICHOLAS CHRISTAKIS: But the vast majority of improvements in health in our society over the last century have had very little to do with medical innovation. What really counts is other kinds of things we can do, and those other kinds of things tend to be non-medical things. Like, thinking about the distribution of wealth in our society, or providing public health infrastructure, or better education for people, better housing – all of those things which aren’t medical phenomena. It’s all those that are really material for public health.

Social Security reportedly provides a higher monthly payment, relative to the amount put in, for lower income workers.  But because low income people have shorter lifespans, this doesn’t mean that it redistributes income downward.

And any post about income inequality, including this one, should include a disclaimer such as the following:

Any system of taxes and subsidies intended to equalize incomes will do so inefficiently if at all, and is likely to be perverted. An effective solution to the problems of poverty requires the elimination of privilege and the preservation of opportunity for people to earn a good living.

Originally broadcast last year, this seems to be a four hour program, and I’ve only read part of the transcript for the first hour. Thanks to Bob Matter for pointing it out.

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