Pain and inequality

by kathy on May 6, 2008

By Kathy G.

The results of this new study on pain assessment by Princeton’s Alan Krueger and SUNY Stony Brook’s Arthur Stone are for the most part not particularly surprising. As it turns out, economic inequality impacts practically every dimension of human existence; even physical pain is unequally shared. For example, the Krueger/Stone study found that respondents with low socio-economic status experienced “significantly higher pain occurrences and severity.” For instance:

The average pain rating is twice as high for those in households with annual incomes below $30,000 as for those in households with incomes above $100,000.


Participants with less than a high school degree reported twice the average pain rating as did college graduates.

Occupational status seems to play an important role, given that

the average pain rating for blue collar workers is 1.00 during work and 0.84 during nonwork, and for white collar workers it is 0.61 during both work and non-work episodes.

And in an interview, Krueger said, “Those with higher incomes welcome pain almost by choice, usually through exercise,” he says. “At lower incomes, pain comes as the result of work.” [click to continue…]

By Kathy G.

Well, what can I say? Henry has provided me with such a truly awesome intro that I can’t possibly hope to live up to it. But it does give me an additional incentive to do my best, which is what I’ll attempt to do.

Yesterday, following up on something Spencer Ackerman had posted, Matthew Yglesias wrote the following:

It’s really bizarre how, in the context of war, totally normal attributes of human behavior become transformed into into mysterious cultural quirks of the elusive Arab. I recall having read in the past that because Arabs are horrified of shame, it’s not a good idea to humiliate an innocent man by breaking down his door at night and handcuffing him in front of his wife and children before hauling him off to jail. Now it seems that Arabs are also so invested in honor that they don’t like it when mercenaries kill their relatives.

I completely agree, and this gives me an excuse to bust out an argument that has long been marinating in the recesses of the ol’ cranium. It’s this: that America, the Mideast, and the world would have been better off if “the single most popular and widely read book on the Arabs in the US military,” Raphael Patai’s racist tract The Arab Mind, had been taken off Pentagon reading lists, and been replaced with Edward Said’s Orientalism* instead. [click to continue…]

The collapsing American middle class

by Chris Bertram on May 6, 2008

Surfing over to Charles Dodgson‘s site yesterday, I happened upon Elizabeth Warren’s lecture on the squeeze on the American middle class since the 1970s. Then you could bring up a family on one income; now you can’t. Then non-discretionary spending made up a smaller proportion of household spending; now, it dominates. Result: if a parent loses their job or gets sick, bankruptcy looms. I didn’t expect to sit watching a YouTube video for whole hour but I was riveted by the story Warren tells with the consumption statistics.

I was kind of reluctant to blog this too. After all, there are others at CT who do sociology or economics or family policy and I don’t do those things. And I’m not an American resident either. Still, it struck me as pretty compelling. I wonder how similar the change has been in the other OECD countries?