Richest Americans Live Up to 15 Years Longer Than the Poorest

The health–wealth gap continues to divide us, a new mega-study finds.

Money can’t buy love or happiness. But it may buy health and a longer life.

In a new mega-review of 26 studies, U.S. Census information, and Social Security records published in The Lancet, Boston University Center for Global Health & Development researchers compared extensive data on Americans’ income disparities and health histories for the years 1980–2015.

They found that the wealth–health gap between the poor and rich is deepening — and that’s translating to a larger difference in how long people live.

“A ‘health–poverty trap’ may be emerging,” explains study lead author Jacob Bor, ScD, SM, assistant professor of global health, “keeping the poor sick, and the sick poor.”

Among the key findings:

  • The richest 1 percent of Americans live more than a decade longer than the poorest 1 percent. Among men, the wealthiest 1 percent benefit from an average of 14.6 years greater longevity; women live 10.1 years more.
  • Since 2001, the poorest 5 percent of Americans are not living any longer — while middle- and high-income people have gained more than two years in life expectancy.
  • Income disparity has “increased dramatically” among Americans in the past four decades: The share of income going into the pockets of the wealthiest 10 percent increased from 33 percent of all earnings in 1978 to 50 percent in 2014 — “a level of inequality not seen since before the Great Depression,” the study authors note. They also found incomes for poor and middle-income Americans have barely changed since the 1970s and, adjusted for inflation, have actually declined since 2000.
  • Poverty has long been linked to poorer health outcomes because people in lower-income groups cannot afford as much or the same quality of healthcare as wealthy people. Numerous studies found that poorer people also are statistically more likely to adopt less-healthy habits, such as smoking, substance- and alcohol-abuse, and an unhealthy diet, and have higher incidences of obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and lung and some other types of cancer.
  • Because they die younger, the poor are often “short-changed” by age-related healthcare programs such as Medicare and Social Security retirement benefits.
  • This wealth–health gap keeps getting deeper for several reasons, the authors note. Among these is a gulf between the richest and poorest in the adoption of healthcare innovations; access to health-risk and preventive-care information due to cost barriers; and the erosion of public subsidies for health insurance and other health inputs.

The result is a looming health–poverty trap, Bor explains. This is vicious circle “where poverty leads to poor health (because the poor face greater disease risks and have fewer resources to invest in their health), and in turn, poor health leads to deeper poverty (through medical expenses and productivity losses).”

“Low-income Americans are increasingly left behind,” he and his coauthors write in the study. “Without interventions to decouple income and health, or to reduce inequalities in income, we might see the emergence of a 21st century health–poverty trap and the further widening and hardening of socioeconomic inequalities in health.”

Written by Michael Dregni and reposted with permission from Experience Life.



Carl R
Carl R17 days ago


Nicole H

This is not only the case in America. In W. Europe, the same applies. There first is housing. Low income people have to rent cheap. This means that the houses are mostly damp and mould can be found on walls and ceilings. A wet and moldy house gives more health problems (specially respiratory) Also wearing damp clothing is not good. Rooms are insufficiently ventilated, because they want to economize on heating expenses, are windows are mal functioning so that once opened, you risk not being able to close them. Space is very limited, so people all sit together, and virus and bacteria fly around the room, infecting the whole family. There is often a shortage of warm / hot water and even if there is enough, the price of water has increased so terribly the last 3/4 years that many people do not care that much about hygiene any longer. Washing hands after going to the toilet is not done. Towels in kitchen are not changed sufficiently. The latter contain lots and lots of bacteria. Cleaning of the house, and washing of clothes is limited because of too costly. When poor people get sick, they have to keep working because they are afraid of losing their jobs. So they wait way too long before seeing a doctor, and in the meantime the disease has got worse. Many people also do not take their medication because they can't afford to pay for them. Or when 2 or 3 children have a big cold, the syrup and other medication is simply divided. This means tha

Shant'a D
Shant'a D22 days ago

Wages need to change drastically for the betterment of life longevity

Margie F
Margie F24 days ago

Okay, but at what quality of life?

Dennis Hall
Dennis Hall25 days ago


Krzysztof J
Krzysztof J25 days ago


Marzena B
Marzena B26 days ago


Marcin J
Marcin J26 days ago


Marija M
Marija M26 days ago

it is probably the same in all parts of the world...

Elena Poensgen
Elena P26 days ago

Thank you