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|We have considered many
of the influences already, but the slide shows some more.
One important factor shown recently to be important in determining health for as far back as the 14th Century to the present day is relative wealth. Even in countries with high per capita income the most wealth have better health overall than those somewhat less wealth but still materially very comfortable. In poor societies, the slightly better off have better health than the slightly worse off. This wealth related relative health effect has been shown in terms of the positive correlation between the sizes of dowries given by Florentine people in the 14th Century upon marriages of their daughters and the daughter’s subsequent age of death; between the size of tombstones in 19th Century Scottish churchyards (a proxy measure of wealth) and the age at death inscribed upon the tombstones, and the rapid and substantial decline in life-expectancy by about 5-6 years among Russian males since the collapse of Communism, and particularly since the economic collapse of Russia.
These data are compelling evidence that relative material status, not just absolute levels of wealth, has important impact on life expectancy.