National lottery could teach us how income improves health

December 20, 2001

Editorial: Income, health, and the National Lottery BMJ Volume 323, pp 1438-9

Most people in the United Kingdom have taken part in a world-leading, multi-billion pound trial of a major health determinant. Unfortunately, most are unaware the trial exists and no-one knows the results.

The National Lottery is a ready-made trial of increased income, suggests Anthony Rodgers in this week's Christmas issue of the BMJ. It provides a unique opportunity to understand how income improves health, especially among families living in poverty, he argues.

Evidence suggests that modest increases in income, if sustained, could lead to important health benefits. Therefore, some winners could receive regular, income-like payments (such as £40, £80, or £160 a month for a decade). Winners would then be compared to a random selection of non-winners to assess the long term effects on outcomes such as diet and smoking, and broader indicators like employment, education and even entrepreneurship.

Most people buy lottery tickets and winning is purely chance, so the study would be, in effect, a trial of income supplementation in a group drawn at random from the majority of the UK population, says the author.

If just 5% of one year's worth of prize money was redistributed in this way, more than 15,000 people could be winners for a decade. The project would be entirely self-funding. Long-term prizes are well accepted overseas, but the novelty here could revitalise sales, especially if there was a higher chance of winning and people could use non-winning normal tickets to enter. It would also fit with the government's aim to direct lottery funds more actively to health, education, and the environment, and with the move towards evidence based social policy, adds the author.

If successful, the project could be adopted elsewhere: most countries have lotteries and well over US$100bn is spent on lottery sales world wide each year, says the author. However, because it is so large and well organised the National Lottery provides the best opportunity to see how much and how quickly increased income improves health and wellbeing. It could provide uniquely valuable evidence for social policies, particularly those aiming to lift people out of poverty, he concludes.
-end-


BMJ

Related Poverty Articles from Brightsurf:

COVID-19 second wave in Myanmar causes dramatic increases in poverty
New evidence combining surveys from urban and rural Myanmar and simulation analysis find COVID-19 second wave dramatically increasing poverty and food insecurity.

Advancing the accurate tracking of energy poverty
IIASA researchers have developed a novel measurement framework to track energy poverty that better aligns with the services people lack rather than capturing the mere absence of physical connections to a source of electricity.

If you're poor, poverty is an environmental issue
A survey from Cornell researchers -- conducted among more than 1,100 US residents -- found that there were, in fact, demographic differences in how people viewed environmental issues, with racial and ethnic minorities and lower-income people more likely to consider human factors such as racism and poverty as environmental, in addition to more ecological issues like toxic fumes from factories or car exhaust.

Poverty associated with suicide risk in children and adolescents
Between 2007 to 2016, nearly 21,000 children ages 5-19 years old died by suicide.

New index maps relationships between poverty and accessibility in Brazil
Poor transportation availability can result in poor access to health care and employment, hence reinforcing the cycle of poverty and concerning health outcomes such as low life expectancy and high child mortality in rural Brazil.

Repeated periods of poverty accelerate the ageing process
People who have found themselves below the relative poverty threshold four or more times in their adult life age significantly earlier than others.

Poverty as disease trap
The realities of subsistence living in a region of Senegal hard hit by schistosomiasis make reinfection likely, despite mass drug administration.

Persistent poverty affects one in five UK children
Persistent poverty affects one in five children in the UK, and is associated with poor physical and mental health in early adolescence, suggests research published online in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

Poverty leaves a mark on our genes
In this study, researchers found evidence that poverty can become embedded across wide swaths of the genome.

Satellite images reveal global poverty
How far have we come in achieving the UN's sustainable development goals that we are committed to nationally and internationally?

Read More: Poverty News and Poverty Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.