Why Are Rich People Healthier?
I have always been intrigued by the idea that your wealth could have a major impact on your health.
Certainly when we look back at the richest people in history we find many people who lived very long lives. Andrew Carnegie lived to 83, John D Rockefeller to 97, Henry Ford to 83 and Scrooge McDuck is still going strong when he must be about 100.
So what are the factors which help well off people live longer?
They Suffer Less Stress
At first this point seems to be the wrong way round. After all, isn’t it pretty stressful to manage a huge amount of money and run a successful business? It seems fair to say that people like Rockefeller and Ford worked long days over many years. However, I always remember one of my first bosses telling me that you only suffer stress when you aren’t in control of the situation. Real stress comes from worrying about whether you are going to lose your job, how you are going to pay your mortgage and how you are going to put food on the table at the end of the month. This is the kind of stress which can cause health problems and shorten your life expectancy.
They Live in Better Houses and Neighbourhoods
I have never felt the urge to live in a mansion behind giant security gates and with a pack of snarling dogs outside. Having said that, I can’t deny that living in a warm house in a nice neighbourhood has got to be better for your life than living somewhere that is not so nice. I have never lived in a slum but when I was a kid our humble abode had some dampness on my bedroom wall. It wasn’t a huge deal but I suffered a lot from bronchitis -and still do at times – which is probably because of this according to my doctor. If you imagine the precarious conditions which many people live in all over the world it is easy to see that having access to better living conditions can really help you live longer.
They Can Afford to Spend Money on Better Quality Food
If I go back to my own childhood again for a moment; I wasn’t some sort of Oliver Twist like waif but I definitely didn’t eat the healthy, balanced diet I do now. Often the cheapest food around isn’t the best or most nutritional. In the UK, for example, fast food and frozen supermarket meals are among the cheapest ways of eating on a budget, which isn’t going to be great for your health.
They Get Better Medical Care
The differences between expensive medical care, free medical care and no medical care are huge. In the UK we are lucky to have a decent and free medical service. It might not be ideal but it is better than nothing. However, if you have ever received expensive, private medical attention then you will appreciate that having the money to pay for this kind of thing makes a real difference. If I was extremely wealthy I would make sure that high quality medical care for me and my family was the priority. In fact, even without being very rich I still class this as hugely important.
A More Comfortable Life
Finally, this last point is one which is perhaps becoming less relevant over the years. It used to be that the poorest people had the toughest, most physical jobs, like mining, factory work and such like. These days you can still live a comfortable life without much cash.
Do you think you would be healthier if you were richer?