How much does money matter?
Monetary income is often a key feature of government social policies but there are a range of competing ideas about how income might affect important policy goals such as good health. The aim of this project, supported by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, is to explore the theoretical pathways between individual and family income and health.
We are examining how different pathways link income and health as well as how they affect each other. For example, having a poor standard of income may affect the goods – food, housing, warmth - people can buy to look after their health, while having poor health may limit people’s ability to earn an adequate income level. The stress of not having enough money to look after the family may affect people’s mental health, and people’s position in the income distribution may also have consequences for their wellbeing. It is not just people’s income at one point in time that is important but chains of consequences of different income patterns between generations and over time. For example, parents’ income may influence children’s health and education which in turn will affect their employment opportunities and earning potential as adults. This might in turn influence their health as adults and their later income in retirement and so on. As well as understanding these complex relationships between income and health at the individual and family level, it is important to consider how these connections are influenced by broader national factors, for example the state of the economy or the kinds of social policies governments might introduce.