Work, Income & Health Inequality: A Snapshot of the Evidence

Work, Income & Health Inequality: A Snapshot of the Evidence

As major inequities in the vaccine roll out emerge, ACOSS and UNSW Sydney have released a report showing the relationship between income and health. Australian Council of Social Service CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said: “The pandemic has exposed the stark inequities that impact our health across the country. People on the lowest incomes, and with insecure work and housing have been at greatest risk throughout the COVID crisis. Now, they are the same people who are at risk of missing out in the vaccine roll out.

“Our report shows that health inequities are built into our society. Our report shows that people on low incomes have the highest levels of psychological distress, and we know that the pandemic is increasing that distress.

“People on lower incomes are also at greater risk of chronic illnesses, which can also make them more at risk to the impacts of the pandemic.”

Professor Evelyne de Leeuw, Director of Centre for Health Equity Training, Research & Evaluation, said:

“It’s clear that income and wealth help determine health outcomes in Australia, with our report showing those in the highest income group are more than twice as likely to be in good health than those in the lowest income group.

“Without urgent government action, the panonly et to widen this inequality, with people on lower incomes already being left behing in the vaccine rollout. Many live in insecure, over-crowded housingn or work in roles that cannot be carried out from home. Health inequities are not a given; they are a consequence of how our societies work.”

Australian Council of Social Service CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie continued:

“Improving health for all is not only about investing in our health system – it’s also about income support, housing and community services. We must deliver on the basic economic supports and social determinants of health such as adequate and secure incomes and housing, including in lockdowns, so that we can improve health for all and get through the COVID crisis.

“As the wealthiest country in the world, it is inexcusable that we have not tackled preventable health inequalities. Far too many people have poorer health outcomes by reason of preventable economic and social disadvantage.”

The report finds that:

  • People in the highest income group are twice as likely (60%) to report their health status as good, very good or excellent, compared with only 33% of those in the lowest income group.
  • People on social security payments under 65 were considerably more likely to have asthma (19%) than those whose main income was wages or salary (11%).
  • Half of people on social security payments under 65 report mental health conditions (50%). This is over twice as many as those whose main source of income is wages or salary (18%).
  • Over a third of people on social security payments under 65 report high psychological distress (36%), compared with 10% of people whose main source of income is wages or salary.

Download report.


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