The Scott Advisory | Affluence, Young Adults and Wellness
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Affluence, Young Adults and Wellness

“When health is absent, wealth is useless,” Herophilus, the ancient Greek physician, writes. The Roman poet Virgil, puts it another way: “The greatest wealth is health.” Gandhi once opined that, “It is health that is real wealth, and not pieces of gold and silver.” And then there’s this, attributable to almost anyone: “You can’t buy good health.”


Counseled by such wise words distinguishing health from wealth, one might begin to believe the two have little to do with each other. One would be tragically misinformed. The relationship between your finances and your health status and behaviors is strong and complex.


There’s the grim reality that poor health cuts lives short. Besides the tragic truncation of a loved one’s life, it’s also the tragic truncation of a financial legacy for the spouse, children and grandchildren.

Younger Adults, Affluence and Wellness

 Understanding how wellness and affluence can impact younger adults. 

In the last 15 years or so, academics have spent an increasing amount of time studying the affluent and what can ail them, and there is an emerging consensus that their children often have higher rates of depression and anxiety and elevated levels of substance abuse and certain delinquent behaviors.


Suniya Luthar, a professor at Arizona State University, researched these trends in the late 1990s. Fully expecting to find more troubling trends among children in lower-income families, she used data from a more affluent group as a comparison.


What she found in a 1999 study and several more since, however, was a surprise. Using a variety of data, she found that the adolescents in higher-income families had higher rates of substance abuse of all kinds than those in lower-income ones. (Journal of Child Development, 1991)


In addition, her study showed that the more affluent suburban youth stole from their parents at averages that were above baseline and were more likely to experience clinically significant levels of depression, anxiety and physical ailments that seemed to stem from those mental conditions. These things began emerging as early as seventh grade.


In 2012, Terese J. Lund and Eric Dearing published a study that suggested that the environment mattered too. What they found was that middle-class children who lived in middle-class neighborhoods had less depression and anxiety and fewer incidences of delinquency than middle-class children who lived in more affluent neighborhoods. The surroundings seemed to matter. (Journal of Research on Adolescence, 2013)