Why does poverty matter to me?
I still get that question, even after writing several blog posts talking about why poverty is a problem in a community (click here, here or here) and has an impact on us regardless of our income level.
Now, guess what? People die because of poverty. The New York Times recently ran an article that summarized a recent study printed in the American Journal of Public Health. According to the new study, in 2000, 245,000 deaths were attributable to low education; 176,000 to racial segregation,162,000 to low social support; 133,000 to individual-level poverty; 119,000 to income inequality and 39,000 to area-level poverty.
It has long been known that poverty is related to being able to go to the doctor to be screened for things like diabetes, hypertension and HIV/AIDS. Even if you are diagnosed with an illness, you may not be able to afford the care you need. Poverty creates stress that taxes the body and it can result in unhealthy behaviors.
Dr. Galea, the study’s author, is quoted in the New York Times article as saying, “If you say that 193,000 deaths are due to heart attacks then, heart attack matters. If you say 300,000 deaths are due to obesity, then obesity matters.”
Well guess what, poverty matters, because 133,000 people are dying because of it.