“The Working Poor: Invisible In America” Book Review

David Shipler in his book The  Working Poor: Invisible in America investigates one of the most burning problems of the contemporary society – the problem of poverty and social injustice.  The author describes lives of workers, who get low-wages. In the eighths chapter of his book he describes health issues and peculiarities of healthcare service, which low-wage workers have to face when they address for medical help.

People who get low wages often make their best to earn their living, but they constantly fail because poverty affects all spheres of their lives and they cannot escape from this trap. Bad living conditions, bad food and bad working conditions, which often accompany poverty, result in worse health conditions.  Such problems as malnourishment and hard working conditions result in different kinds of health problems. People with low-income are more inclined to different kind of chronic diseases, infections, stress  and emotional problems. Even children from poor families may suffer because of not enough quantity of quality food. According to the studies, cited in the chapter, about 11,1%, which makes about 12.1 million are classified as “food insecure”, which means that these people do not have enough food to it (Shipler 2004). The author also points out that such studies illustrate only the quantity of people who do not have food to eat.  As the author points out, “Food is one of the few flexible parts of a tight budget. Rent is a fixed amount. Car payments are constant…. But the amount a family spends on food is elastic; it can be expanded or squeezed to fit whatever cash is left after the unyielding bills are paid. The result is an array of malnourished children in America” (Shipler 201). At the same time, there is a high percent of people who have to buy cheapest food of poor quality. There is no doubt that the quality of nourishing influences health state. Lack of quality food results in multiple health problems, including infection diseases, retarded physical and mental development and other diseases. These conditions become even more dangerous, when it comes to children, who go through the stage of rapid growth and become especially sensitive to  food of poor quality  or lack of nourishing. According to the author of the article, lack of normal nourishing may also have negative affect on school performance, which has further life-long negative consequences. This way children from poor families from the very start of their life become deprive of basic things, including normal food and clothes, and this reduces their chances to get quality education and build successful career in the future.  

The author of the article studies correlation between mild mental retardation and the level of income. He comes to the conclusion that the possibility of mental retardation increases for households with low income.

Unfortunately, families with low income have to face multiple problems, when they address for medical assistance. They cannot get healthcare service of the same level as their counterparts with better income do.   Shipler points out that there are programs, which are developed to support low-income families. Unfortunately, such programs exist only in some states and do not cover all categories of population. Bad living conditions result in worse health state. In addition, health care for families with low wages also cannot provide quality assistance. In the clinics, which exist for this category of population there is no enough personnel to give necessary assistance to everyone who needs it. In many cases medical staff cannot perform home visits and a lot of patients have no opportunity to receive timely medical care. ”In cases of malnutrition, poverty alone is not always the cause, but it exacerbates the affliction…. Multiple caretakers can’t keep track [of feeding]. The household may not have healthy snack food on hand, and the older siblings may hog what there is” (Shipler 210).  In addition, doctors cannot check up living conditions in the families with low income. Poor household often becomes the source of additional health problems.  Cultural and language barriers also add to the problems.  These barriers can create communication problems. Some categories of low-income patients prefer not to address clinics, others do not want to speak about their health problems. In addition, there is a category of population who prefers to use non-traditional methods of treatments. All these facts give additional complications to the treatment process. As the author of the book points out, “Poverty leads to health and housing problems. Poor health and housing lead to cognitive deficiencies and school problems. Educational failure leads to poverty (Shipler 228).  Some diseases are caused by bad living conditions, while others are caused by poor quality of food or even lack of food. Children become especially affected by bad living conditions. They may be affected by these conditions in different ways. In some cases, they may have chronic diseases, such as asthma, for example. “A kid will show up with an asthma attack, and they’ll start asking about the housing, and it turns out there’s mold growing on the wall…»( Shipler 226). In other cases, lack of normal nutrition may result in poor academic performance or even mental retardation.

The chapter gives insight into health problems, which affect people with low income level. The author illustrates how poverty affects different sides of people’s life. Poverty influences all sprees, and finally it deprives people of chances of normal and quality living. Living conditions influence people’s health and lifestyle. The facts giving by Shipler in his book are thought provoking. The author attracts public attention to the one of the most serious problems of the contemporary society.

Works Cited

Shipler,   David, The Working Poor: Invisible in America, by Vintage Books, 2004. Print.

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