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For a Longer Healthier Life in America, Get Rich (or move to Maine or Vermont)

Politics / Social Issues Apr 14, 2016 - 10:38 AM GMT

By: Michael_T_Bucci

Politics

If you are feeling chronic stress, anxiety, apprehension and are worried about money, work, family matters, personal health and the economy you are in the majority.

Since 2007, the American Psychological Society (APA) has conducted a “Stress in America” survey. It found that money and work are the top two sources of “very or somewhat significant” stress (67 percent and 65 percent in 2015, respectively). This year, for the first time, the survey reveals that family responsibilities are the third most common stressor (54 percent), followed by personal health concern (51 percent), health problems affecting the family (50 percent) and the economy (50 percent).


In its March update, APA focused on “The Impact of Discrimination” to stress.

Nearly seven in 10 adults in the U.S. (69 percent) report having experienced any discrimination, with 61 percent reporting experiencing day-to-day discrimination.

Younger adults are the most likely to say they have experienced any discrimination (75 percent of Millennials, compared to 72 percent of Gen Xers, 67 percent of Boomers and 56 percent of Matures).

Thirty percent of women cite gender as a reason for day-to-day discrimination, compared to just 8 percent of men.

Disabled adults with a disability are twice as likely as adults without a disability (19 percent vs. 9 percent) to say that their life has been harder (a lot or some) because of discrimination.

For all groups surveyed, the most commonly reported experiences of major discrimination relate to employment.

While overall life expectancy at birth in the United States reached a record high in 2012, significant numbers of adults across different subgroups also are experiencing disproportionate rates of health disparities, including mortality rates.

An April 10 report in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) indicates life expectancy is significantly associated with income. (jama.jamanetwork.com)

The JAMA study noted higher income was associated with greater longevity throughout the income distribution. The gap in life expectancy between the richest one percent and poorest one percent of individuals was 14.6 years for men and 10.1 years for women.

Men in the bottom one percent of the income distribution at the age of 40 years in the United States “have life expectancies similar to the mean life expectancy of 40-year-old men in Sudan and Pakistan.” Men in the top one percent of income distribution have “higher life expectancies than the mean life expectancy for men in all countries at age 40 years.”

Inequality in life expectancy increased over time. Between 2001 and 2014, life expectancy increased by 2.34 years for men and 2.91 years for women in the top five percent of the income distribution, but by only 0.32 years for men and 0.04 years for women in the bottom.

In a JAMA editorial, Steven H. Woolf, MD, MPH commented, “Life expectancy is lower and disease morbidity is higher in the United States than in other high-income countries. This situation, decades old, is not for lack of skilled medical care; the United States has among the world’s best hospitals and technology.

“Nor is spending on health care inadequate; per capita health expenditures in the United States far exceed spending elsewhere. The poorer health of racial and ethnic minorities does not explain the nation’s low rankings; the US non-Hispanic white population and other advantaged groups also have worse health outcomes than their peers in other countries.

“The US health care system certainly has deficiencies,” he stressed, “notably the lack of universal coverage, but this alone does not explain the pervasive health disadvantage.”

A February report from The Sightlines Project of Stanford Univ. (stanford.edu) found financial security is less likely for Americans in 2014 compared to 2000, particularly among the least educated, who are more likely to live at or near the poverty level, lack emergency resources, and are less likely to have investments that contribute to their financial futures.

Millennials (ages 25 to 34) are facing ever greater uphill struggles, the Stanford project reported. “Those who went to college are 50 percent more likely to carry debt. Moreover, the average debt in this group is five times higher than 25- to 34-year-olds carried just 15 years ago.

Social engagement is declining. “It is too soon to tell whether new forms of technology-mediated social engagement – SMS, chat, video telephony, posting and tweeting – are providing social benefits and how they may complement face-to-face engagement.”

“Interactions with neighbors – whose proximity could be especially helpful in times of stress or emergencies – are becoming less common.”

These three reports, among dozens in the last years, portray stress levels, health outcomes and longevity across economic groupings; the JAMA study reveals significant gaps between the poorest and wealthiest one percent. But answers to why these differences exist are disputed and argued.

Dr. Woolf (JAMA editorial) continues, “A medical journal article reporting that income is significantly associated with life expectancy is a call to arms, but the answer cannot come from medicine or public health alone but from the health professions working with partners who share an interest in prosperity and good health.” He encourages the collaboration of “business leaders, school systems, the park authority, investors, retailers, the media, and community groups.”

In search of better health and a longer life? Reduce stress or get richer.

Pay-off debt. Save. Limit buying to essentials only. Abhor credit cards. Enjoy nature (it’s free). Interact face-to-face instead of through costly impersonal devices. Write Letters to the Editor instead of posts to social networking sites (they have the lifespan of a snowflake). Attend community meetings and be involved in political decisions. Volunteer to help the less fortunate, disabled and elderly in your town and city. Turn off TV, radio and web stressors (they’ll be there if you decide to go back). Eat healthfully (it’s cheaper). Love your neighbor (and help heal America!!!).

In search of peace? Go to Iceland.

The nonprofit Institute for Economics and Peace (economicsandpeace.org) ranks Iceland number one in peacefulness in its Global Peace Index for 2015. Alas, the United States ranked #94, just below Peru (#93) and above Saudi Arabia (#95).

But if you are searching for the most peaceful area within the U.S., The United States Peace Index, a national subdivision assembled by the Institute, ranked Maine the most peaceful state in the U.S. in its 2011 and 2012 surveys. (Vermont ranked #2)

A 24/7 Wall St. (247wallst.com) July 2015 survey also ranked Maine the most peaceful state in the country, performing well in each of five measures considered. (also ranking Vermont #2) The report reads:

1. Maine

  • Violent crime rate: 129.3 per 100,000 (2nd lowest)
  • Murder and non negligent manslaughter rate: 1.8 per 100,000 (7th lowest)
  • Median household income: $46,974 (16th lowest)
  • 2014 unemployment rate: 5.7% (21st lowest)

Maine ranked as the most peaceful state in the country, performing well in each of the five measures considered. The state had a murder rate of less than half the national rate, as well as the second lowest violent crime rate, only just slightly higher than Vermont’s. Not surprisingly, the state incarcerated the smallest proportion of its population in the nation, at just 163.6 people per 100,000 residents — less than a third of the national incarceration rate. While it was the most peaceful state, Maine did not display all the characteristics of a state with low violence. For example, income tends to be higher in low-crime areas, but Maine’s median household income of $46,974 was the 16th lowest in the country. By other demographic measures, however, the state fits the profile as a peaceful place. For example, just under 92% of Maine’s adults had at least a high school diploma, the fifth highest rate in the country.

Discounting Maine’s principal trigger for producing state-wide stress (Gov. Paul LePage), you can’t find a more peaceful state in America (other than Vermont).

And should Donald Trump become president, it’s just a short ride from any point in Maine to the seventh most peaceful country in the world.

Hello Canada?

Sources:

“2015 Stress in America”. American Psychological Association. March 10, 2016.
http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/2015/impact-of-discrimination.pdf

“The Association Between Income and Life Expectancy in the United States, 2001-2014”. Raj Chetty, PhD, et. al. JAMA. April 10, 2016.
http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=2513561

“The Good Life”. Steven H. Woolf, MD, MPH. JAMA. April 10, 2016.
http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=2513559

“Seeing Our Way to Living Long, Living Well in 21st Century America”. The Sightlines Project. Stanford Univ. February 2016.
http://longevity3.stanford.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Sightlines-Project-Full-2_10_2016_855pm_FOR_WEBSITE.pdf

“On Death and Money”. Angus Deaton,, PhD. JAMA Editorial. April 10, 2016.
http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=2513558

“Global Peace Index 2015”. Institute for Economics and Peace. 2016.
“http://static.visionofhumanity.org/sites/default/files/Global%20Peace%20Index%20Report%202015_0.pdf

“Iceland remains most peaceful nation in the world, study says”. Jethro Mullen. CNN. June 25, 2015.
http://www.cnn.com/2015/06/25/world/global-peace-index-iceland-syria/

“United States Peace Index”. Institute for Economics and Peace. June 2012.
http://economicsandpeace.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/2012-United-States-Peace-Index-Report_1.pdf

“America’s Most Violent (and Most Peaceful) States”. Thomas C. Frohlich. 24/7 Wall St. July 15, 2015.
http://247wallst.com/special-report/2015/07/15/americas-most-violent-and-most-peaceful-states/5/

(c) 2016 Michael T Bucci. All Rights reserved.

Michael T Bucci is a retired public relations executive currently living in New England. He has authored nine books on practical spirituality collectively titled The Cerithous Material.


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