Closing the Divide:
Income-Related Approaches to Improving Health
Income is a primary determinant of a healthy and long life. In Colorado and the nation as a whole, higher income means healthier outcomes and a longer life span. This relationship between income and health holds true across the income spectrum for most measures of health and over the life course starting at birth.
Some of the pathways linking income and health are clear. More income means more resources to afford healthier food and better health insurance coverage. Income also influences health by determining where people live, work, play and attend school. Higher income families can choose to live in safe neighborhoods with high performing schools, plentiful parks, access to grocery stores with healthy food choices and a range of transportation options. Lower income people who live in economically distressed communities are exposed to a range of stressors—such as higher crime, poorer quality housing, environmental hazards and strained school systems—that directly affect their health.
These various pathways between income and health point to opportunities for income-based policies that can improve both our economy and the overall health and wellbeing of our communities. In other words, income-related policies are also public health policies.