A study published Monday in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) provides more evidence that life expectancy in the United States is chiefly determined by economic class. Higher income is the most critical factor in longevity, the study found, with the gap between the richest one percent and poorest one percent of individuals averaging 14.6 years for men and 10.1 years for women.
The study was based on income data derived from 1.4 billion tax records between 1999 and 2014 of individuals aged 40 to 76, and death records obtained from the Social Security Administration. It found that men in the top one percent had an expected age of death of 87.3, compared to 72.7 years for the poorest one percent. The richest women on average lived 88.9 years, while the poorest lived only 78.8 years.
“Men in the bottom 1 percent of the income distribution at the age of 40 years in the United States,” the study noted,” have life expectancies similar to the mean life expectancy of 40-year-old men in Sudan and Pakistan.” US men in the top one percent of income distribution have “higher life expectancies than the mean life expectancy for men in all countries at age 40 years,” the study found.
Writing on the findings, which were obtained by a research team led by Stanford University economics professor Raj Chetty, the Stanford University Newscommented, “Being richer was associated with living longer at every level of the income distribution. And the gap between the richest 1 percent and the bottom 1 percent in the nation was vast.”