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Stanton Peele

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Pity the Unhappy Rich! Not...

Posted: 03/21/11 12:08 PM ET

I just watched a former Hollywood bigwig give up his wealth to move from Beverly Hills to a trailer park. "Money doesn't buy happiness!" he lamented. He now knows his neighbors in the trailer camp, unlike those stuck-up people in Beverley Hills.

We may surmise that people in privileged jobs and economic positions (those who are better educated and have more responsibilities) might have more illness, pain and depression. Woe are they!

Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have released the results of the 2009 National Health Interview Survey.

Here is what the NHIS tells us about Americans rich and poor, educated and uneducated.

Ability to perform nine specific physical activities:

  • Level of education was inversely associated with difficulty in any and in each of the nine activities; as education increased, the percentage of adults with difficulty performing the nine physical activities decreased.
  • Adults in poor families were more than twice as likely to have difficulty with each of the nine activities as were adults in families that were not poor.

Health:

  • Level of education was positively associated with health status; 75 percent of adults with a bachelor's degree or higher were in excellent or very good health compared with 38 percent of adults with less than a high school diploma.
  • Adults in families that were not poor were more likely to have excellent or very good health compared with adults in poor and near-poor families, and adults in near-poor and poor families were two to three times as likely to have fair or poor health compared with adults in families that were not poor.

Pain:

  • Adults with a bachelor's degree or higher were less likely to have migraine headaches, neck pain, lower back pain, or pain in the face or jaw, compared with adults who did not graduate from high school.
  • Adults in poor and near-poor families were more likely to experience migraine headaches, neck pain, lower back pain, or pain in the face or jaw in the three months prior to the interview than were adults in families that were not poor.


Smoking, drinking, obesity:

  • Adults with at least a bachelor's degree were less likely than other adults to be current smokers and more likely to have never smoked.
  • Adults in families that were not poor were less likely to be current smokers and more likely to be former smokers than adults in families that were near poor or poor.
  • Educational attainment and family income were positively associated with current regular drinking status (i.e., richer and better-educated people are more likely to drink regularly).
  • Educational attainment was positively associated with a healthy weight.

Sadness and hopelessness:

  • Level of education was inversely associated with feelings of sadness, hopelessness, worthlessness or that everything is an effort; the highest percentage of adults with these feelings was among those with less than a high school diploma, and those least likely to have these feelings were those with a bachelor's degree or higher.
  • Adults in poor families were at least twice as likely as adults in families that were not poor to feel sad, hopeless, worthless or that everything is an effort for all, most, or some of the time during the 30 days prior to the interview.

Of course we should pity the rich and educated -- just not as much as the poor and uneducated!

 
 
 

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