Is a healthy lifestyle a luxury in the US?

Health and well-being management
High-earners are one third more likely than low earners to identify as having an occupation that supports a healthy lifestyle.

In February of 2018, Pega surveyed 1,004 people from across the United States to gain insights on a range of health and healthcare issues. Ages of the respondents ranged from 18 to older than 65 (Gen Z to Baby Boomers), and total household income ranges from less than $40 thousand (50 percent of respondents) to more than $200 thousand (only 2 percent). Thirty-three percent work full time, 34 percent have some college education, and 72 percent self-identify as White.

For a number of questions, data from subsets of our survey respondents correlated to data from the total sample set, however, there were a few differences that emerged for what could be characterized as lifestyle questions. We’ve highlighted these below.

How likely are you to focus on your health and well-being when you feel financially stable?

As we pointed out in our previous blog, 70 percent of all respondents say they are more likely to focus on their health and well-being when they feel financially stable. And when we break this down by age, there were large differences at opposite ends of the age spectrum. More than half (52 percent) of 18-24 year olds agreed that financial stability was important when focusing on health. Conversely, only 21 percent of respondents aged 65+ considered financial stability a prerequisite for keeping health and well-being top of mind.

Does your current occupation support a healthy lifestyle?

Each person has their own definition of “healthy,” so this question could have been interpreted in many ways. One interpretation could mean that the function of the job itself could be considered “healthy” – for example, a physically active and/or outdoor job like lifeguard. Or, we could hypothesize that the job allows for enough time to participate in healthy activities outside of work.

The good news – 57 percent agree that their job supports a healthy lifestyle. However, when we break this down by income, we find substantial differences. For respondents that identify as having less than $40 thousand in household income, only 48 percent consider their occupations as supporting a healthy lifestyle. In contrast, 80 percent of respondents earning more than $150 thousand responded in the affirmative – a significant difference.

Do you have easy access to healthy food in your community?

Again, the statistics here show fluctuations based on income, with lower income individuals responding in the negative at a higher rate. Within our total sample, 75 percent (27 percent “strongly agree” and 48 percent “agree”) that they have access to healthy food in their communities, however for persons with incomes of less than $40 thousand per year, these numbers dip to 66 percent (20 percent strongly agree and 46 percent agree). For persons with incomes greater than $150 thousand per year, 90 percent either strongly agree or agree (split 45 percent and 45 percent).

Interestingly, when we measure the respondents who “disagree” or “strongly disagree” with this question – essentially, consumers who do not believe they have access to healthy food in their community – 11 percent are low income, which is a higher value than the total sample (8 percent). For participants with incomes greater than $150 thousand, the total number disagreeing or strongly disagreeing with that statement is less than 1 percent.

What was your last wait time to see a doctor (time from requested appointment to actual appointment)?

This is one area where income didn’t make a significant difference. According to the survey, the majority of respondents (57 percent) are waiting between 1 to 7 days to see their doctor, and persons with incomes greater than $150 thousand actually are waiting longer (10 percent higher wait time than overall). Apparently we are all at the collective mercy of our healthcare providers’ schedules!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Leanne Russell, managing editor of Pega’s blog, helps high-tech leaders share their knowledge, experience, and success stories.