Financial Health Is Public Health
(By Kate Griffin, Vice President for Programs, CFED)
As we take What It’s Worth and all its great ideas on the road this year, the theme that seems to be resonating with audiences is the intersection between physical health and financial health — not just in terms of a two-way, cause-and-effect relationship, but also how practical and “doable” the solutions can be if we start with children and families.
The physical stress stemming from not making ends meet, day to day, month to month, or year to year adds up. Over the course of a year, 6 in 10 families experience financial shocks that can cause significant strain, and make it harder to make ends meet — even months after the shock occurs (“How Do Families Cope with Financial Shocks?” Pew Charitable Trusts, Oct. 2015). And, as Dr. Purnell noted in his essay, families who experience financial stress are more likely to cope by smoking, eating, drinking alcohol, and leading a more sedentary lifestyle. Most directly, the 2016 Assets and Opportunity Scorecard reported that 14.3% of adults did not see a doctor in the past year because of cost; this number rises to 1 in 5 African-Americans and 1 in 4 for Latino adults.