Income Matters

Why Income Matters

Research shows a link between income and health. The higher the income, the lower the chances of disease and early death.

Income determines our social, economic and physical environments, and access to health care, which greatly influences health (see figure below).

Income Matters Chart

Determinant of Health Percentage
Social & Economic Environment 50
Health Care (Illness Care) 25
Biology & Genetics 15
Physical Environment 10

(Source: Canadian Institute for Advanced Research)

People with lower income have:

  • Poorer mental and physical health
  • Higher stress
  • Less access to healthy food, affordable safe housing, health services and basic needs
  • More disease and early death

Wealth and income provide benefits such as healthier living and working conditions, access to healthy food, health care, recreation, transportation and protection from chronic stress due to low income.

Parents’ wealth affects their children’s education and economic and social opportunities, which shapes their health throughout life. The influence of wealth on health begins even before a child is born. It affects the quality of prenatal care for a woman, her level of stress during pregnancy and her likelihood of delivering a premature or low birth weight baby.

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