It can be argued that income is the most important social determinant of health, as it can directly inhibit access to food, shelter and clothing. When overall living conditions are low, individuals often suffer from poor diet, exercise and psychological health, which can increase the likelihood of substance abuse. A Canadian study on men found that those living in the wealthiest 20% of neighbourhoods lived on average 4 years longer than those living in the poorest 20% of neighbourhoods. When looking at income and income distribution as a social determinant of health, it is important to observe how health is related to actual income, and how the ways in which income is distributed affects the overall health of a population.
Income Map by Toronto Star: