Yes. It does. Simple as that. Being wealthy adds nine years to healthy life expectancy according to a transatlantic study led by University College London. But also, it's complicated. A tangled, knotty problem.

For example, what would you do if someone handed you £20 right now, on a Friday afternoon, on a grey February day? Now we can't speak for everyone, but as far as we're concerned they might as well put that note straight in the pockets of our local Chinese takeaway. Did that make us healthier? Absolutely not.

But what if it was £20 every week? Or a £2,000,000 lump sum? Is it long term financial stability that helps people live healthier lives? Is it having enough cash to get out of a damp draughty house, or enough to quit a job that is making your dodgy knee worse? Does it have to be your own money or can you get the same benefit from being poor in a rich nation with a strong social safety net?

In 2014 the Joseph Rowntree Foundation analysed the research around money and health and came up with four mechanisms that explain how poverty impacts health.

💳 Material: Money buys goods and services that improve health. The more money families have, the better the goods they can buy.

🧠 Psychosocial: Managing on a low income is stressful. Comparing oneself to others and feeling at the bottom of the social ladder can be distressing, which can lead to biochemical changes in the body, eventually causing ill health.

🚬 Behavioural: For various reasons, people on low incomes are more likely to adopt unhealthy behaviours – smoking and drinking, for example – while those on higher incomes are more able to afford healthier lifestyles.

🔄 Reverse causation (poor health leads to low income): Health may affect income by preventing people from taking paid employment. Childhood health may also affect educational outcomes, limiting job opportunities and potential earnings.

So what can we do about it? Well, lots, and not just by chasing more money. Those four mechanisms illustrate that even the biggest, most complex knotty problem is made up of individual threads, and in the absence of Alexander the Great slicing through that Gordian knot with an enormous financial sword the best answer is for everyone to pick up a thread and start gently tugging to see if it comes loose.