I was reading a post on the tao of making money about poverty in the US. Apparently, lots of people in American who are under the poverty line for their household size have cars, air conditioning, tvs, and microwaves. I’m sure its always been the same – you could argue that you aren’t that poor if you have access to indoor plumbing, but most people in the developed world draw the line somewhat higher.
However, I’m digressing. One of the most interesting things about poverty is the difference in life expectancy between those in affluent areas and those in deprived areas. On average in the UK, it is about 10 years,with those in the most affluent areas having a life expectancy of about 82 years, and in the most deprived areas more like 72 years. In some segments of these deprived groups the picture is even worse, with men in Calton in Glasgow having a life expectancy of under 60 years – about the same as Bangladesh.
This isn’t due to unaffordable healthcare. We have, pretty much, a free universal healthcare system. The direct reasons that more deprived populations have lower life expectancies is related to poor lifestyle choices that are made (on average), but I think there are deeper root causes at work.
Life expectancy seems to me to be a reasonable proxy for the level of poverty experienced in a country. So whilst the poor in the developed world may enjoy tv as much as the wealthy, they don’t get to do so for as long. Money seems to literally buy time.
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