Income Inequality Is Making Americans Sick

Dr. Sanjay Gupta suggests that stress from living in an unequal society is responsible for negative health outcomes.

Constant daily stress is driving Americans to abuse drugs and alcohol and to even commit suicide at a devestating rate. According to Dr. Sanjay Gupta, self-inflicted deaths and health issues related to stress are more prevalent in the United States than many parts of the world.

“If you live in a society that has blatant inequality... I'm doing the exact same task as the next person and for whatever reason, we're no longer being rewarded the same,” Gupta said in an interview with Salon. “We're no longer being compensated the same. Something is unfair and unjust about this. No matter where you are on that spectrum if you're the one benefiting from that, or you're the one who's not benefiting from that, it raises stress levels.”

Societies with visible, glaring inequality create stressful environments, Gupta continued. "We see that very visually with the monkeys, because it's so primal, so reflexive, it really captures your attention."

Among wealthy nations, the U.S. has the highest Gini Coefficient—a measure for wealth inequality in a given society. "Our inequity is similar to countries like Sudan, which are known to have high very unequal distribution of wealth. In the United States, we have that as well, and it's very glaring in people's face. And that is probably what is in part driving the stress levels as well."

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