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November 24, 1975

Poverty and Health: A Sociological Analysis

Author Affiliations

University of Missouri Medical Center Columbia

JAMA. 1975;234(8):874. doi:10.1001/jama.1975.03260210082040

Poverty has always been linked to poor health and early death, and this link has been exaggerated by industrialization, urban crowding, and new medical technology. Modern Marxism, following on French revolutionary thought and later Utopian and socialist political tradition, claims to upgrade health and eliminate poverty by social reform without unusual expenditure. Current reports about wonderful health in Maoist-Marxist China are in keeping with this argument. We may await more precise understandings and validations from China while reading these ten detailed and truthful essays on the same problem of poverty and illness in our own Western democracies.

Avoiding an abrasive political approach, the editors chose a pleasant and persuasively descriptive style to discuss such tough issues as social factors in defining insanity; or distinguishing the "deserving poor" from the group that seems to abuse our efforts to help them; or the practicality of "soup-kitchen" medicine in our acquisitive society; or