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Research ties economic inequality to gap in life expectancy
Old 03-11-2013, 08:32 AM   #1
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Research ties economic inequality to gap in life expectancy

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"...[R]aising the eligibility ages currently 65 for Medicare and moving toward 67 for full Social Security benefits would mean fewer benefits for lower-income workers, who typically die younger than those who make more."

Research ties economic inequality to gap in life expectancy - The Washington Post
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Old 03-11-2013, 09:12 AM   #2
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Not criticizing the article, but I've heard this before, and it stands to reason IMO. People with means have better access and healthier lifestyles in general.

What conclusions do you draw from it - and again, I am asking, not attacking?

And a convincing argument can be made that lowering (vs increasing) the Medicare eligibility age would lower overall health care expenses (since Medicare is big enough to control rates better than any insurer/administrator). With ACA, the net benefit to government spending might improve too (even if Medicare costs seem to increase with younger eligibility).
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Old 03-11-2013, 09:12 AM   #3
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I've seen this for years in studies. The folks who are more likely to *need* these benefits to retire at even a subsistence level are also the ones more likely to die before they can collect. I suppose one could say that dying early "saves" these programs by leaving fewer folks who get the benefits, but I'm pretty sure that's not how most of us want to "save" these programs.

What is there to be done about it? Not sure. But I do think it shows that further increasing the full retirement age for these entitlements would be somewhat regressive, as they are the ones who are least likely to be able to retire until they reach that increased age.
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Old 03-11-2013, 09:20 AM   #4
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Yes, it's been discussed before and it seems that if anyone feels this is something that needs to be 'fixed', the question is - how?

Women live longer than men on average - should we adjust for that? And the stats will depend how you break down the groups - does a certain group have a shorter LE because of X,Y,Z, or because of their average economic status?

It's difficult to be fair, and you will never get people to agree on what 'fair' means. But it is (relatively) easy to be equal.

I say stick with 'equal(*)'. Life's not fair, and any adjustment from equal is likely to create more problems than it solves. JMO.


(*) SS isn't 'equal' now, lower income people get a better 'return', but that's a different angle.

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Old 03-11-2013, 11:31 AM   #5
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How do we know what comes first?

In other words, how do we know that "people with means live longer because they have healthier lifestyle" vs "people who have healthier lifestyle are people with means"?
Or to a more specific example - the guy who rides his bike everyday saves $$ on transportation and have more $$ and has a healthier lifestyle vs. a guy who does drugs, which cost $$$.
Chicken vs egg?
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Old 03-11-2013, 11:41 AM   #6
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I think common mutual causality is far more likely than low income causing early death. My candidate: Poor decisionmaking skills, an unwillingness to delay gratification, poorly developed risk assessment capability are likely to lead people to smoke, eat too much, eat an unhealthy diet, and engage in other behaviors that put their health at risk and lead to early disability and death. They are also causative for low educational attainment, low lifetime income levels, and failure to save/invest for retirement/health needs.
At least that's what my observations indicate.
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Old 03-11-2013, 12:02 PM   #7
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Presumably, with the advent of Obamacare, more lower income people will get the medical care they need. That should help solve the problem.
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Old 03-11-2013, 01:20 PM   #8
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Presumably, with the advent of Obamacare, more lower income people will get the medical care they need. That should help solve the problem.
If it indeed does result in better access to health care for the poor, it could demonstrate whether or not correlation equals causation in this case.
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Old 03-11-2013, 02:43 PM   #9
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If it indeed does result in better access to health care for the poor, it could demonstrate whether or not correlation equals causation in this case.
We can look to countries with existing universal health care for an indication of the answer. See chart 9-2 at this link. This National Academies of Science chart uses education level as a proxy for socioeconomic status, which seems to have face validity.
Many people claim that the universal health care in Europe should be a model for the US. On average, the differences between life expectancy of those who attained high educational levels and those with low educational attainment are less in the US than in Europe. In Europe, the difference in life expectancy for high vs low education 65 year old males is 4.2 years. In the US it is 3.6 years. So, either health care availability is more equal between upper and lower socioeconomic levels in the US than in Europe, or maybe factors other than health care explain the differences in longevity between rich and poor. I don't know about that first explanation, but I strongly believe in the truth of the second one.

People who make poor decisions tend to make them across many areas of their lives.

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"Stupid" may seem judgmental and coarse, but there's no polite way to characterize some of the decisions people make. The WP article cited in the OP appears to be agenda-driven.
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Old 03-11-2013, 03:03 PM   #10
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May just be evolution. Higher wage earners attract healthier mates or tend to marry from the same socioeconomic group and the gene pool gets healthier or remains healthier. Economic inbreeding, if you will .
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Old 03-11-2013, 04:19 PM   #11
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Worldwide health is correlated with social class, even more than with income per se. This is true in the most egalitarian and socialist countries, just as it is in the US.

Who knows why; maybe nothing more than comfort with one's station in life. If humans were not sensitive to this, they would be the only known mammals who were not.

It hurts to be down low, period.

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Old 03-11-2013, 06:53 PM   #12
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It hurts to be down low, period.

Ha
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Old 03-11-2013, 10:25 PM   #13
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Stupidity cannot be cured with money, or through education, or by legislation. Stupidity is not a sin, the victim can't help being stupid. But stupidity is the only universal capital crime: the sentence is death, there is no appeal, and execution is carried out automatically and without pity.

Robert Heinlein, "Time Enough for Love".........

Or in the words of comedian Ron White-

"You can't fix stupid"
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Old 03-12-2013, 04:21 AM   #14
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Throwing up our hands in frustration that we can't come up with a perfect solution is just an excuse for layering the burdens of our society more heavily on those who can least afford it. Marginalizing and disparaging those least fortunate to rationalize such a perspective just compounds the problem. At the core, it isn't really a fitness problem, or a money problem, but rather a societal failure in promoting and affirming the worth and dignity of all.
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Old 03-12-2013, 07:30 AM   #15
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Throwing up our hands in frustration that we can't come up with a perfect solution is just an excuse for layering the burdens of our society more heavily on those who can least afford it. Marginalizing and disparaging those least fortunate to rationalize such a perspective just compounds the problem. At the core, it isn't really a fitness problem, or a money problem, but rather a societal failure in promoting and affirming the worth and dignity of all.
I love the overutilization of the phrase "marginalizing" to absolve any group of any responsibility for behavior, etc. Yep, maybe now I've been marginalized by society because a portion of my income is taxed at 39.6%. I'm now a victim.
Also, when someone uses the phrase "societal failure" in regards to why some achieve more than others, that excludes the group in question (the less well off) and essentially says those that have achieved have failed those that have not achieved. Really? I would argue we have a library problem;public libraries are everywhere but I don't see many of the "marginalized" in the library. Others outside this nation laugh at what we define as the "poverty" level. Just my thoughts.
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Old 03-12-2013, 08:12 AM   #16
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Throwing up our hands in frustration that we can't come up with a perfect solution is just an excuse for layering the burdens of our society more heavily on those who can least afford it. Marginalizing and disparaging those least fortunate to rationalize such a perspective just compounds the problem. At the core, it isn't really a fitness problem, or a money problem, but rather a societal failure in promoting and affirming the worth and dignity of all.
OK you've got our attention. What exactly should we do to help?

And I see only one post that may disparage, maybe quote the one(s) you take issue with next time?
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Old 03-12-2013, 10:44 AM   #17
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I love the overutilization of the phrase "marginalizing" to absolve any group of any responsibility for behavior, etc.
I didn't use the term in that manner. I meant the word in its proper manner: To relegate to lesser consideration. It was intended to project the message that regarding others in a lesser manner is a big part of the problem.

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Also, when someone uses the phrase "societal failure" in regards to why some achieve more than others, that excludes the group in question (the less well off) and essentially says those that have achieved have failed those that have not achieved.
No it doesn't. You're making that up.

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OK you've got our attention. What exactly should we do to help?
I wish I knew. We won't be able to figure it out, though, with people working so hard to make the answer into blaming the less fortunate.

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And I see only one post that may disparage, maybe quote the one(s) you take issue with next time?
The point stands on its own, relevant to the discussion in the thread in general.

Why do you want to encourage making the discussion more personal, anyway? I don't see any benefit in making discussions into challenges to individual people.
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Old 03-12-2013, 10:48 AM   #18
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I love the overutilization of the phrase "marginalizing" to absolve any group of any responsibility for behavior, etc. Yep, maybe now I've been marginalized by society because a portion of my income is taxed at 39.6%. I'm now a victim.
Also, when someone uses the phrase "societal failure" in regards to why some achieve more than others, that excludes the group in question (the less well off) and essentially says those that have achieved have failed those that have not achieved. Really? I would argue we have a library problem;public libraries are everywhere but I don't see many of the "marginalized" in the library. Others outside this nation laugh at what we define as the "poverty" level. Just my thoughts.
Generally agree. The US (& world generally) is increasingly more demanding on an intellectual level. Education (in broadest sense) & understanding can be encouraged/facilitated but cannot be forced on people. Point about widespread underutilization of US library programs (inc internet access & no/low cost educ pgms) is sad. In most major metro areas there are other educational opportunities as well. History shows those who refuse to learn & adapt will always be left behind.

IMHO- Personal freedom is the ultimate dignity & self-worth. A free society includes the right to make good & bad personal choices. I do not view the consequences of these choices as evidence of a "societal failure". In fact over past 50yrs US entitlement payments (inflation adjusted) have soared over 700%-
Are Entitlements Corrupting Us? Yes - WSJ.com
"Poverty" level in US is actually top 1% economic condition of world's population.

Situation in health care is similar. As management programs become more complex, patients need better understanding for achieve optimal outcomes even when access to care is similar. Pt education is obviously important, but then each person has to participate in optimizing their health. Worse statistical outcomes are to be expected in those who choose to make bad choices (e.g. smoke, drink to excess, fail to take their meds, etc.).

The challenge of patient adherence
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Old 03-12-2013, 10:50 AM   #19
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We won't be able to figure it out, though, with people working so hard to make the answer into blaming the less fortunate.

The point stands on its own, relevant to the discussion in the thread in general.

Why do you want to encourage making the discussion more personal, anyway?
Why do you want to paint us all with the same broad brush, given that only one post to that point seemed to disparage anyone or "blame the less fortunate?"

I think most people would genuinely like to help, but like you they 'wish they knew' how...
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Old 03-12-2013, 11:51 AM   #20
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Why do you want to paint us all with the same broad brush, given that only one post to that point seemed to disparage anyone or "blame the less fortunate?"
My comment wasn't about posts. It was about society (which includes myself, by the way). And my comment wasn't about blaming the less fortunate, but rather placing the burdens of society's failure on them.

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I think most people would genuinely like to help, but like you they 'wish they knew' how...
And that brings us back to what I actually did say: "Throwing up our hands in frustration that we can't come up with a perfect solution is just an excuse for layering the burdens of our society more heavily on those who can least afford it." This implies that if we are to fail, then let us fail so it places the burden responsibly, not exploitatively, because: "Marginalizing and disparaging those least fortunate to rationalize such a perspective just compounds the problem."
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