Thanks to all our old and new Public Health Perspectives readers for your support over the year. Your tweets, Facebook comments, and feedback are all really appreciated. Lets wrap up the year by reviewing our most popular stories of 2016.
New research published in JAMA last week examined how big a difference earning more money makes in life expectancy, as well as how this changes by geographic location across the United States. Researchers collected tax records from 1.4 billion individuals from 1999 to 2014 aged 40 to 76. Of these, around 4 million men died, compared to 2.7 million women (mortality rates of 596.3 and 375.1 per 100 000 respectively). They examined these data to look at what predicted life expectancy at age 40, after adjusting for race and ethnicity.”
January 2016: The Zika Virus – what do you need to know?
“The more I read up on a topic, the more complicated it ends up being. As you start trying to unravel the ball of yarn, every thread leads to three more, and each of those lead to three more. The Zika virus has highlighted that in a very tangible way.
The Zika virus is an arbovirus infection transmitted by several different species of Aedes mosquitoes. In adults, the most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes) (CDC). Symptoms are usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week and it is uncommon for it to require hospitalization. However, this isn’t the case for newborns. The virus has been found to be highly neurotrophic, and has resulted in children being born with microcephaly, where they have smaller than normal brains. Within the span of a few months, there have been several thousand cases of children being born with microcephaly, and this is only the tip of the iceberg with the WHO predicting that three to four million people will be infected this year.”
“I imagine most of my readers have never heard of Dauphin, Manitoba. A small, farming community in Canada, Dauphin is a town that was part of an experiment back in the 1970s. The “mincome” project was launched in 1974, and offered everyone a minimum income. Unfortunately, the project was shut down in 1979 with a change in the government, and so the effects weren’t long term enough. The purpose of the mincome project was to see what would happen if a “top up” was offered to everyone. Dr. Evelyn Forget has been studying records from those years, and following up on people to see how it impacted their life. Would people stop working? Would there be higher rates of employment? How would people respond?”
November 2016: Basic Income: From an idea to reality
“Our current way of dealing with poverty is inefficient at best, with mountains of forms, paperwork, weighed down by bureaucracy and procedures. At worst, it’s stigmatising and judgemental, keeping people in poverty rather than giving them opportunities to break free and elevate themselves out of poverty. One possible solution is providing individuals with a Basic Income (click link for my previous post on the subject).”
“One of the greatest fictional stories isn’t a summer blockbuster and doesn’t star a big-budget Hollywood celebrity. It’s the story that individuals are poor due to their lack of will/drive/desire, and if they worked harder, they’d work themselves out of poverty. We like to call it the “American Dream.” Perhaps the most effective endorsement of this story is that people continue to believe it, despite US-based data proving the opposite. In fact, the poverty rate in the US remained mostly consistent from 1966 to 2014, fluctuating from 15% to 11% (US Census, Table 2).”