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Employment is good for your health, an expert tells U.S. senate

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Patricia Borns photo

While some Congressional leaders have been grilling Health and Human Services staff on the miserable roll-out of Obamacare, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and his subcommittee on aging have been hearing about the disparities in life expectancy that exist between regions of the United States, or even between different urban neighborhoods. 

Underscoring the gravity of the hearing, Sanders said, "The stress of poverty is a death sentence."

Among those who testified, Lisa Berkman of Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) said that “employment is almost always associated with better health.”

Berkman, who has researched employment and mortality, said she also observed a link between certain work policies such as maternity leave and the earned income tax credit program and better health outcomes. 

Nicholas Eberstadt, a political economist at the American Enterprise Institute, had a different take:  

"Real, existing social and economic disparities are just not that good in predicting real existing health disparities in our real existing modern America. In fact, it is commonplace today for poorer, less educated groups to enjoy substantially *better* health outcomes than those who would appear to enjoy distinctly greater socioeconomic advantages," Eberstadt said. 

Canadians have also been mulling over the effects of income disparity on health, with numbers showing money matters

Is there a policy in your workplace that makes it easier or harder to maintain your health? Have you seen a health decline or a health improvement related to your economic or social circumstances?  We'd like to hear your experiences. 

Listen to the senate subcommittee's discussion of disparities and health

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