Socioeconomic status operates as a ﬂexible resource, helping individuals acquire and produce good health. Income is one part of how socioeconomic status may impact health. And one of the ways income may affect health is through its links with social support and social networks.
Low income is associated with multiple adverse events that could undermine social support. For example, eviction may lead to the burnout of social relationships if contacts feel overburdened by the demands placed upon them by the evicted person. Contact with close friends can be undermined by unemployment. Persons with low-income jobs may also be precariously employed, which may prevent socializing due to uncertain schedules and exhaustion, weakening social ties. Because one’s friends and family tend to be of similar income levels, this may lead to ‘vicarious stress’ that undermines the provision of support to the focal person.
However, the links between income, social support, and well-being are unclear. Understanding these links could lead to the development of policies that could improve health when income is under pressure. To this end, this paper undertakes an analysis of income, social support, and well-being in the Greater Toronto Area. The analysis explores whether income-related differences in social support ‘explain’ the association between income and health. That is, to what degree is the correlation between income and health reduced once we consider the correlation between income and social support?