UPI reports on a research study by Matthew Davis from the University of Michigan. Matthew finds that:
American seniors are getting healthier overall, but the well-educated, rich and white are seeing the greatest gains, a new study finds.
Matthew is amazed that rich and white folks are seeing the biggest gain despite Medicare for older Americans. He thinks that the solution must come from government policies:
“Policies have to extend beyond just getting people access to healthcare to get at what’s driving disparities. The lack of improvement in health among all groups could imply that public health initiatives are leaving some people behind,” he added in a university news release.
Sidebar One: In the UPI report there are no Asians. There are only whites, blacks, and Hispanics. UPI does not link to Matthew’s study so we don’t know about the study and it might be that Asian are not of interest to UPI. End Sidebar One.
Sidebar Two: Matthew is an assistant professor. That means he is early in his academic career. End Sidebar Two.
Matthew and UPI seem unaware that there is lots of discussion about culture and cultural values. Heather Mac Donald has a nice summary of the article by Amy Wax and Larry Alexander and the responses to it. Of course, Amy and Larry have been called racists. Here is part of what Heather said.
Today, the consequences of that cultural revolution are all around us: lagging education levels, the lowest male work-force participation rate since the Great Depression, opioid abuse, and high illegitimacy rates. Wax and Alexander catalogue the self-defeating behaviors that leave too many Americans idle, addicted, or in prison: “the single-parent, antisocial habits, prevalent among some working-class whites; the anti-‘acting white’ rap culture of inner-city blacks; the anti-assimilation ideas gaining ground among some Hispanic immigrants.”
Heather isn’t discussing health but some of the behaviors like opioid abuse and anti-social habits will directly have an impact on health while others might connect to health. Charles Murray has been working in this area for years. There are two issues: First. there lots of causes of health. It could be (gasp) that there are genetic differences among races. It could be that there behavioral causes. Those behavioral causes might be cultural or they might be something else entirely.
Second, access to health care is not health care and neither of those is health outcomes. It is possible but not likely that government policies are going to lead to equal health care outcomes for every group of people.
What is amazing to us but not Matthew is that there are lots of potential cultural causes but neither Matthew or UPI even considered them. There is an astounding amount of discussion about Charles and Amy. We need to consider adding two and two to get four. Behavior has an impact on health. Culture has an impact on behavior. It seems highly probable that culture has an impact on health.