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Low Levels Of Income Have Adverse Effects On Mental And Physical Health

Lower incomes harm the mental health and well-being of a working individual. To what extent income affects a person is a question we wish to answer by synthesizing different studies that are related.


We can look into multiple sources for a systematic review and meta-analysis. The studies show that when there was an increase in binary income, which lifted individuals out of poverty, it caused a 0.13 SD improvement in mental health measures and well-being increased to 0.38 SD. A fall in income worsened mental health by about 0.21 SD. Low and middle-income people were highly affected by the changes in income.

Nathan/Pexels | People with lower levels of income are likely to experience depression


Poor mental health was the main cause of worsened physical health and social outcomes. Social conditions determine how well a person can bear the mental health burden and increasing health issues. Income mostly affects those who don’t have easy access to health-promoting goods and services. Low income is related to deteriorating mental health; however, it’s not clear whether increasing income can improve mental health or not.

Poor mental health can also be caused by other factors like income source and setting. This might have a more drastic effect on mental health for low-income individuals in underdeveloped countries. Other factors such as anxiety disorder, depression, psychological distress, and anxiety may adversely affect mental health and well-being in the same way a reduction in income does. It is also well accepted that poverty is associated with common mental disorders. In the U.S, depression persists more in people with the lowest income groups. This group is also linked with alcohol addiction, smoking, and similar problems. Governments can use taxation and unemployment benefits as intervention methods to reduce uneven wealth distribution. These and other government policies aimed at reducing economic and social disparity can potentially improve the health of the affected individuals.

Nataliya/Pexels | Government can use taxes to reduce wealth inequality


Likewise, unemployed people are likely to face a loss of income, which can cause mental instability. That’s why, during a recession, when people are laid off there is an increase in mental health issues of the affectees. Experts say there is a link between mental illness, life satisfaction, suicide, and income. When basic needs are not met, this leads to the above problems. There is also another factor: mental capability. How many changes in income affects your mental health depends on your mental capacity to endure pressure. A large US study showed a strong association between substance use disorder and suicidal attempts with decreasing income.

Karolina/Pexels | When basic needs are not met this creates pressure causing mental illness


While carrying out studies on different study groups, it was ensured that factors such as age, income, marital status, and ethnicity were all accounted for. Some mental disorders tend to develop with lower levels of income. However, alcohol addiction was uncommon in individuals with the lowest income level because of affordability concerns.

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