Princeton University survey finds 'pain gap' [Poor people suffer]

“Poor people suffer??” Nani!!! Is that news or merely stating the obvious? I do not need a think tank to tell me that.

Princeton University survey finds ‘pain gap’

The study, which appears in the May 3 issue of The Lancet, was prepared by Alan Krueger, a professor of economics at Princeton University, and Arthur Stone, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral science at Stony Brook University. The work is the first of its type, according to the authors, to quantify a “pain gap” in American society, with the “have-nots” suffering a disproportionate amount in relation to the “haves.”

Participants with less than a high school degree were found to report twice the average pain rating throughout the day as did college graduates. The researchers also found the average pain rating to be twice as high for those in households with annual incomes below $30,000 as for those in households with incomes above $100,000.

“People in households making less than $30,000 a year spend almost 20 percent of their time in moderate to severe pain, compared with less than 8 percent for those in households with income above $100,000 a year,” Krueger said.

Workers in blue collar jobs reported higher occurrences and more severe pain than did those in white collar jobs. For blue collar workers, pain was lower when they were off work than when they were working. The 13 percent of people who reported a work-related disability experienced very high rates of pain, and accounted for 44 percent of the total amount of time that Americans spent in moderate to severe pain.

Hat tip to Randall Parker:


Government Picks Up Health Tab of Uninsured Workers

The second report,The Widening Health Care Gap Between High- and Low-Wage Workers, shows that low-wage workers do not have the same access to health care as high earners.

“This is really a very depressing report,” Glied said. “What it really says is that the good things that are happening in our health-care system are only happening to higher-wage people. Low-wage people really don’t see much gain at all from all the extra good stuff we are spending on health care – they’re just getting shut out of it.”

Because health-care expenditures have not risen as fast as costs, low-wage workers are frozen out of many of the latest medical innovations and new drugs, Glied said. “We are seeing an increasingly two-class, health-care delivery system,” she said.

Glied thinks there need to be more subsidies provided for low-wage workers to allow equal access to health care. “Or we have to reconcile ourselves to the idea that being rich is not only good for your living, but also how long you live and how well you live,” she said. “That’s a kind of frightening thought.”

Hat tip to Daily Kos:

Also the PDF on health care access inequality.


New government research has found “large and growing” disparities in life expectancy for richer and poorer Americans, paralleling the growth of income inequality in the last two decades.

In 1980-82, Dr. Singh said, people in the most affluent group could expect to live 2.8 years longer than people in the most deprived group (75.8 versus 73 years). By 1998-2000, the difference in life expectancy had increased to 4.5 years (79.2 versus 74.7 years), and it continues to grow, he said.

After 20 years, the lowest socioeconomic group lagged further behind the most affluent, Dr. Singh said, noting that “life expectancy was higher for the most affluent in 1980 than for the most deprived group in 2000.”

I also found this on someone’s blog:

The headline unemployment rate in Sweden is only 5-5.5%, but this number is extremely misleading as it only includes a small number of the people who the government pays not to work. Many unemployed are sent to so-called “labor market political activities” who have no meaningful purpose then to reduce the headline unemployment number. Including them, unemployment is 8%. And if you also include the enourmous number of early retirees and people who live of sickness benefits, the real unemployment rate is more like 25% rather than 5%. The number of early retirees are 540,000, more than double the number of officially unemployed.

I do not know if the unemployed are in any real pain in Sweden, but maybe their employment policies will help mitigate the pain on the lower classes. In addition, its low gini coefficient should help. Maybe the “labor market political activities” (I have no idea what that even means) might not involve manual labor that will cause pain later. Well, Sweden has a high standard of living and high life expentancy.

I wonder if wanting to live as long as wealthy people should be deemed as “class warfare” or “class envy.”

Is there, I wonder, a happiness coefficient?

I have no idea if we can really define “suffering”. Or “happiness”.

Consider that in Western society, even poor people have a high degree of consumer goods … color television, for example. Automobiles. A lot of clothing. Enough food to have overweight as a serious medical condition.

How much of the suffering of poor people is due to overeating, for example. Or consuming too much alcohol. Alcohol is expensive. Or smoking. Tobacco is expensive. Or taking recreational drugs. Drugs are expensive.

The problem with generalized statistics is that they are just too non-specific.

If someone lives in a ratty roachy apartment, a gallon of paint might only cost the equivalent of a couple of six-packs of beer. Or the equivalent of a few litres of soda. Spackle and steel wool to seal rat holes is pretty cheap. Snap traps are cheap. Sticky traps and borax to deter roaches are inexpensive. Picking up and bagging garbage instead of leaving it out for vermin to eat doesn’t cost much.

Disease in an interesting issue.

And lumping all spending together to create aggregates really doesn’t do the job.

As folks live longer, more and more diseases that are the function of simply living longer, become evident.

I used to be SHOCKED at the number of folks who were taking ten prescription drugs. Or the serious interactions of the drugs they were taking. When someone is zonked out and cannot safely cross a street because he or she is not paying attention, then the medical and health care systems are working overtime to create more problems rather than solving them.

Also consider that there are psychological issues. Some people can gain sympathy (or feel that they can gain sympathy) by presenting as being sick.

It is disturbing that so many sick people “get better” when given a sugar pill … a placebo. How can that be if they are truly sick.

Why is a “cry for attention” considered seriously? There may not be enough people around to give everyone all the attention they crave.

Instead of WANTING attention, they should be out there being productive.

Or, the folks who get tons of prescription drugs and then don’t take them; their cabinets are filled with prescription drugs that they get and don’t take. Or folks who can’t swallow a small pill. Makes ya wonder. Gotta tell ya.

Sorry for the rant. But there are too many people who just want to manipulate other people.

Um, the majority of psychiatric illnesses are chemically based and need some treatment. But they stop taking medication because of the side effects. So research should be done to come up with better meds to treat them. I refuse to listen to the rant that these people are just faking it. It shows a lack of knowledge of mental illness.

That is very true about mental illness. When I was growing up, one of my best friends had a mother who suffered from bipolar disorder. I learned just how ineffective some, but not all, of the medications can be and how some of the side effects can be bad but the condition, left untreated, is still worse.

Americans in households making less than $30,000 a year spend nearly 20% of their lives in moderate to severe pain, compared with less than 8% of people in households earning above $100,000, according to a landmark study on how Americans experience in pain. The findings, published Thursday in the British journal the Lancet, also found that participants who hadn’t finished high school reported feeling twice the amount of pain as college graduates. “To a significant extent, pain does separate the classes,” says Princeton economist Alan Krueger, who authored the study along with Dr. Arthur Stone, a psychiatry professor at Stony Brook University.

Krueger notes that the type of pain people reported typically fell on either side of the rich-poor divide. “Those with higher incomes welcome pain almost by choice, usually through exercise,” he says. “At lower incomes, pain comes as the result of work.” Indeed, Krueger and Stone found that blue-collar workers felt more pain, from physical labor or repetitive motion, while on the job than off, which at least offers hope that the problem can be mitigated. This finding “emphasizes the need for pain preventing measures [in the workplace] such as better ergonomics,” wrote Juha H.O. Turunen, a professor of social pharmacy at Finland’s University of Kuopio, in an accompanying commentary to the report.,8599,1737255,00.html?cnn=yes

Al, do you have any evidence against this except anecdotes and personal speculation?

Not sure what you would accept as evidence

I have had a lot of experience all over the world and I have spent my life doing a lot of reading. Do I have experience? Yes. Do I remember some of what I have read? Yes. Do I have everything at my fingertips? No. Is everything I have read on the internet? No. So a lot of my experience is NOT personal speculation. It is actual personal experience. Does personal experience count as evidence in a discussion forum? Dunno. But it’s there.

You could get a job teaching English as a second language in China, for example. And that would bring you some experience. Or work as a missionary or medical assistant in Zambia. Or join the National Guard and request overseas assignment. Or do all three. One after the other. Then you would have some experiences with WAWA, for example. West Africa Wins Again.

I have friends who have done these things and gained valuable actual experience. Are they risky experiences? Not too bad. Prudence in all things, etc.

But getting actual experience is … different. Can’t compare it with anything else.

And when you get back and folks start giving you their opinions from never having “been there”, then you also will have the ability to draw on your “anecdotes”.

One thing I can tell you is that a lot of those studies deserve to examined closely in the sense that the abstracts omit essential details. Such as how large was the sample; where was the sample taken; was the study done as a student project; etc.

Another thing I can tell you is that data on income is often “bogus” because for poor people the folks doing the study omit some income sources. The income data is “incomplete” in the sense that it’s not their entire income. So there really needs to be some “equivalent income” rather than income as they state.

What happens is that someday you will actually do some of these studies and you get shocked. Because there are time constraints that cause gross assumptions to be made. Or contradictory data is deliberately ignored. Or the leaders or sponsors of a study have a conclusion that they are working towards and are actively hostile to anyone taking exceptions, even in small details. Or you get to know the actual subjects of the study and either your heart goes out to them because of their suffering OR you find that they are fakes … flat out choosing to be poor to gain sympathy or choosing to be on welfare because it is easier than working or having other income that they don’t report. Or, you discover some serious, really serious corruption, and you keep your lips absolutely sealed or you will be killed in a heartbeat and your body will be eaten by crocs. And even if you did “say something”, you couldn’t prove it legally. And besides, you would find that the number of people gaining from the corruption is too extensive.

And this only comes from being out there.

It ain’t easy. And that knowledge from experience comes slowly and painfully.

I was told an interesting thing by a man with a PhD in vocational rehabilitation. He, himself, is handicapped, and overcame massively more severe disability. He is also a PhD Neuropsychologist.

He told me that disability is not caused by pain, but by the reaction to pain. Reactions, he said, vary very greatly from person to person. Very largely the reaction to pain, and the disability from it is due to the perceived position of the person in his world, particularly the occupational world. While, he felt, the achieved position often affected the outcome (e.g., higher rehabilitation ratio among supervisory or highly skilled people than those who are not) he also felt the perception of one’s achievement has virtually as high a correllation, regardless of the actual level of achievement. Thus, a janitor who values himself and his role in life will have as high a rehab potential as a CEO with the same mentality. And yes, much of it, much of it, is cultural; the culture in which the person grew up and lived. I believe that, as I have seen it.

He also told me that the perception of pain is altered by chemical use. Most drugs cause the brain to develop additional receptors for that drug. Apparently that’s just a physical fact, not a theory. Those receptors, then, not only increase, by their very presence, a desire for more of the same or similar drugs, they increase the perception of discomfort or pain.

So, you take a person who grows up in a situation in which he is told at every turn that he is a victim; that he can’t succeed, in which he sees failure as a norm and who lives that norm during his young life, that person is going to be much more affected by pain than is someone else. If you add the experience of drugs, even a little, to that, and you have a potent self-defeating background for that individual.

And, of course, that combination, or either of them, is more prevalent in black neighborhoods than elsewhere.

I remember seeing photos and reading stories about black neighborhoods like Harlem in the 'teens and 'twenties. Poverty was there, without question. But morale was higher and conditions were better overall. Neighborhoods had not only laborers and menials, but also doctors, dentists, lawyers, salesmen, merchants and teachers as well; people who could present to young blacks a message that one could succeed, even if only in that context and that if the “men with dignity” lived among them and knew them personally, they, too, had an enhanced sense of dignity. And, while drugs had a role in those old neighborhoods, it was nothing like now.

And after all of the civil rights and welfare and social work and everything, things are greatly worse than they were then. Black “bright flight” is likely a significant factor. Say what one will about it, the more successful blacks now live with whites. Even Reverend Wright is an example of that. Black leaders anymore so often seem to be the very people (like Rev Wright, Jessee Jackson, et al) tell people how bad off they are; how doomed, how resentful they ought to be, how “the man” will never give them a chance; how hated they are. In doing so, my guess is that they permanently “pain inflict” generation after generation. Add the “heroization” of drug criminals and the mixture is so toxic it’s a wonder anyone ever survives it, let alone escapes it. Say what one will, it sometimes seems it would have been better if job discrimination had been terminated well prior to residential segregation, at least in northern cities. I say that knowing it will draw fire and hating to even think it myself. But when the better influences and role models left the black communities, it does seem the latter collapsed.

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