Status argument, Social Cohesion, Office or Cubicle, Genes, Nutrition, Class, Ethnicity, Bananas

November 24, 2006

Herper cites Robert Sapolsky, a Stanford neuroscientist and author of “Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers” (1998 [1994]) (based on the classic 1960’s study of 17,530 UK male civil servants) and

The 1960s big office versus cubicle argument

Dr. Marmot’s Whitehall classic study begun in the late 1960’s of 17,530 men in the British civil service concluded that higher ranking civil servants lived longer than those lower on the ladder. A 25-year follow-up of the Whitehall subjects of the same group concurred with the original findings.

The poor people have unhealthy lifestyles argument

Was it surprising when science confirmed that greater poverty levels increase risk of illness and earlier death as do life styles that include cigarette smoking, obesity, hypertension and high cholesterol. In 1998 the focus on NIH was on vulnerabilities based on social class and/or minority status.

Articles using the status argument re: wealth, health and death also refer to Dr. Jay R. Kaplan’s research findings that dominant monkeys with less stress who are fed a luxury diet fare better.

Robert Putman’s social capital argument

“For both blacks and whites, living in a neighborhood where social bonds have eroded may have negative effects on health. Dr. Robert Putnam of Harvard University coined the term “social capital” to describe the elements that contribute to social cohesion (Goode 1999).”

Dr. Ichiro Kawachi, director of the Harvard Center for Society and Health, has explored one aspect of social capital — interpersonal trust — and its relationship to national and community rates of illness and death. Dr. Kawachi and his colleagues correlated mortality rates in states with the percentage of state residents who agreed with the statement, ‘Most people would try to take advantage of you if they got the chance’ (Goode 1999).”

“Social class is an uncomfortable subject for many Americans. “I think there has been a resistance to thinking about social stratification in our society,” said Dr. Nancy Adler, professor of medical psychology at the University of California at San Francisco and director of the John T. and Catherine D. MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Socioeconomic Status and Health. Instead, researchers traditionally have focused on health differences between rich and poor, or blacks and whites (unaware, in many cases, that race often served as a proxy for socioeconomic status, since blacks are disproportionately represented in lower income brackets). But the notion that a mid-level executive with a three-bedroom, split-level in Scarsdale might somehow be more vulnerable to illness than his boss in the five-bedroom colonial a few blocks away seems to have finally captured scientists’ attention (Goode 1999).”

Those with greater vulnerability to social exclusion have a heightened risk to poverty, violence, inadequate access to health care, employment and education.

References:

Goode, Erica, (1999), “For Good Health, It Helps To Be Rich and Important,”New York Times, June 1, 1999, Tuesday. Accessed November 23, 2006.

Herper, Matthew 2006. Why The Rich Live Longer. Forbes.

Kawachi I, Kennedy BP. 1999. “Income inequality and health: pathways and mechanisms.” Health Services Research, 1999 April; 34:215-227.The journal Health Services Research on the web.

Sapolsky, Robert M. 1998 [1994]. Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers. New York, Henry, Holt and Company.

Seligman, Dan 2004. “Why the Rich Live Longer.” Forbes. New York, Henry, Holt and Company: 113-114. stress

Shi L, Starfield B, Kennedy B, Kawachi I. 1999. “Income inequality, primary care, and health indicators.” Journal of Family Practice 1999 April;48(4):275-284.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: