Economic prosperity does not happen by accident. It is a byproduct of hard work, sacrifice, ingenuity, and – frequently – a bit of luck. However, just as economic prosperity doesn’t just happen, it is also true that a complex set of factors has contributed to generational wealth limitations that have huge impacts on economic stagnation. You might be wondering why as a candidate for the County Board of Supervisors I released an Opportunity4All plan to address economic growth or why I would be talking at all about economic inclusion and wealth. The answer might surprise you.The County of San Diego has a very clear role in protecting and promoting the public’s health. This isn’t just for infectious disease like our deadly Hepatitis A outbreak, it extends to population health related to chronic disease, addiction, and mental health issues as well. As the only candidate in the field with a professional background in public health and relevant experience evaluating public health and social service programs, one thing that occurred to me is that there is a very well-documented link between health and wealth. These statistics bring the point home:
- Among children born to families at 200% of the federal poverty level or less, fewer than 50% enter kindergarten ready for school with their peers and only 41% graduate high school
- Poor adults are almost 5x more likely to report being in fair or poor health than their well-off peers
- Children living in poverty are at greater risk for inadequate nutrition, have higher rates of asthma and are at greater risk of becoming obese than other children
- Adults in poverty have higher rates of stroke, diabetes, kidney disease than their well-to-do peers
In short, the more economic prosperity we can foster, the better off our society will be and – critically – the better our overall health will be, too. In part two of this series I will complete the connection between health, wealth, and the County’s leadership role in helping move our region forward.