The shrinking health gap

Article Highlights

  • Equality in health is arguably a prerequisite for all other measures of well-being.

    Tweet This

  • While health inequality across some demographic groups has increased, it has fallen over the entire population.

    Tweet This

  • Acknowledging trends in income inequality is important, but acknowledging trends in other areas of the human condition may be more important still.

    Tweet This

Acknowledging trends in income inequality is important, but it may be more important to consider trends in other areas of the human condition, such as health. Equality in health is arguably a prerequisite for all other measures of well-being.

Inequality and economic insecurity have been at the forefront of the public's attention in recent years, taking center stage in debates about economic policy. Earlier this year in his inaugural address, President Obama emphasized that "our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it." Later, in his State of the Union address, he noted that "corporate profits have skyrocketed to all-time highs, but for more than a decade, wages and incomes have barely budged."

Remarks like these are based on two stylized facts, emphasized by pundits and academics alike: median incomes have been stagnant in recent decades, and the gap between the rich and poor has increased steadily. These ideas propelled the Occupy Wall Street movement, and they have influenced policymakers’ choices on budget issues.

These two facts are based on well-documented trends in household income over the past 40 years. For example, Emmanuel Saez notes that over the period from 1993 to 2011, average real income increased by 57.5 percent among the top 1 percent of families, but by only 5.8 percent among the bottom 99 percent. However, these statistics are misleading. As most of us readily admit, there is more to life than money. We tend to focus on monetary measures out of convenience. But we also need to consider trends in areas such as happiness, opportunity, leisure, government services, technology, and health. Indeed, equality and security in health is arguably a prerequisite for all other measures of well-being. Yet a remarkably positive trend has been all but ignored: the gap between the health haves and the have-nots has narrowed dramatically in recent years.

Read the full text of this article on The American website.

Also Visit
AEIdeas Blog The American Magazine
About the Author

 

Sita Nataraj
Slavov

What's new on AEI

Rebuilding American defense: A speech by Governor Bobby Jindal
image Smelling liberal, thinking conservative
image Stopping Ebola before it turns into a pandemic
image All too many reasons for pessimism about Europe
AEI on Facebook
Events Calendar
  • 20
    MON
  • 21
    TUE
  • 22
    WED
  • 23
    THU
  • 24
    FRI
Monday, October 20, 2014 | 2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Warfare beneath the waves: The undersea domain in Asia

We welcome you to join us for a panel discussion of the undersea military competition occurring in Asia and what it means for the United States and its allies.

Event Registration is Closed
Tuesday, October 21, 2014 | 8:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
AEI Election Watch 2014: What will happen and why it matters

AEI’s Election Watch is back! Please join us for two sessions of the longest-running election program in Washington, DC. 

Event Registration is Closed
Wednesday, October 22, 2014 | 1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
What now for the Common Core?

We welcome you to join us at AEI for a discussion of what’s next for the Common Core.

Thursday, October 23, 2014 | 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Brazil’s presidential election: Real challenges, real choices

Please join AEI for a discussion examining each candidate’s platform and prospects for victory and the impact that a possible shift toward free-market policies in Brazil might have on South America as a whole.

No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.