The impact of differentiated access to income and wealth on health and wellbeing outcomes: a longitudinal Australian study

AuthorsGarth Kendall, Ha Nguyen, Rachel Ong ViforJ
PublishedJanuary 2017
PublisherBankwest Curtin Economics Centre Focus on Western Australia Series
Number of Pages39

It is very likely that differential access to income and accumulated wealth are both mechanisms that promote growing inequalities between individuals and families in Australia. If this proposition is true, it is important to know the extent to which this differential access impact on the health and well-being of the Australian population. While closely related, it is clear that income and wealth are by no means perfectly correlated. It is plausible that inequalities in wealth are increasing at an even greater rate than inequalities in income and that inequalities in wealth pose the greatest risk to social division and future economic development.

Economic strain which is associated with economic insecurity, is a significant life stress that is a cause of many poor health outcomes. Furthermore, it is disturbing that despite the economic progress Australia has enjoyed in recent decades, many indicators of health and wellbeing outcomes are exhibiting adverse trends e.g. higher rates of overweight and obesity, type 2 diabetes, depression, and substance abuse. McEwen and Gianaros (2010) review extensive literature that shows that economic strain can lead to poor health and wellbeing across the life course. It is thus critical to uncover whether, and the extent to which, access to income and wealth in fact alleviate economic related stress and promote health and wellbeing.