Fewer Americans had access to basic life necessities in September. The nation’s Basic Access Index score fell to 81.4 last month — on par with the 81.5 measured in February and March 2009 amid the recession.
Americans’ access to basic necessities has never fully recovered after declining amid the 2008 to 2009 financial crisis and has declined further since February of this year.
Still, the current 81.4 Basic Access Index score means that the majority of Americans do have access to basic life necessities.
These findings are based on more than 29,000 interviews conducted each month from January 2008 through September 2011 with American adults as a part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index.
The Basic Access Index includes 13 questions that measure Americans’ access to basic necessities, ranging from food and shelter to clean water and healthcare.
More Americans Struggling With Access to Healthcare, Food, and Shelter
Americans’ access to healthcare, food, and shelter worsened the most in September compared with when the Basic Access Index was at its high point in September 2008. Fewer Americans now have a personal doctor and health insurance. And more Americans are having trouble paying for food and shelter.
The majority of Americans, however, still have access to all 13 basic necessities the index measures.
While the recession officially ended more than two years ago, the effects on Americans continue to linger. Unemployment remains high and more Americans than ever are living in poverty, which may lead to more people struggling to access basic life necessities such as healthcare, food, and shelter.
Although the vast majority of Americans still report that they are not having trouble accessing basic necessities, the trend is currently going in the wrong direction. Additionally Gallup’s global research finds Americans are now struggling more than Chinese to afford food, a reversal from 2008. If the worries about a double-dip recession come to fruition, even more Americans may start having problems meeting their basic needs.
Additionally, having basic needs met is a precursor to good health, high wellbeing, and ultimately positive economic outcomes. The three Basic Access Index items that have declined the most — having a personal doctor, having health insurance, and visiting a dentist — are all vital components of good preventative care, which ultimately helps to reduce costly and debilitating health problems.
About the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index
The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index tracks wellbeing in the U.S., U.K., and Germany and provides best-in-class solutions for a healthier world. To learn more, please visit well-beingindex.com.
To view and export trend data and for more information on each of the six Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index sub-indexes, please see the following charts: Well-Being Index, Life Evaluation Index, Emotional Health Index, Physical Health Index, Healthy behaviour Index, Work Environment Index, and Basic Access Index.
Results are based on telephone interviews conducted as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index survey Sept. 1-30, 2011, with a random sample of 29,313 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, selected using random-digit-dial sampling.
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