Income and health are tied together

Clark Biegler
Apr 25, 2014

“Income is one of the strongest and most consistent predictors of health and disease.” That’s from Minnesota Department of Health’s recent report on the connection between income and health in Minnesota.

It’s commonly known that health is not just about medical care. In fact, medical care only explains about 10 percent of health outcomes. Good health is physical, social and mental well-being, and is affected by a variety of factors including safe neighborhoods, access to healthy foods and a good education.

The Department of Health’s report shows that Minnesotans with higher incomes are more likely to live longer and have healthier lives, while people with low incomes and lower educational attainment have worse health. That’s because people with higher incomes are more likely to have safe homes and neighborhoods, higher education, and access to healthy foods.

  • People who live in high-income areas of the Twin Cities have a life expectancy that is about 8 years longer than people who live in low-income areas.
  • Babies whose mothers have less than a high school education in Minnesota are 1.7 times more likely to die in their first year than babies whose mothers are college graduates. (Education is used here as a proxy for income.)
  • Only 4 percent of high-income adults in Minnesota have diabetes, compared with 9.5 percent of low-income adults.

For Minnesota to be a state where all residents can lead healthy lives, more Minnesotans need to have adequate incomes to access needed health care, healthy food and healthy living conditions. Policymakers took an important step in that direction with the recent decision to raise the state’s minimum wage to $9.50, which will raise the incomes of 325,000 Minnesotans.

-Clark Biegler