May 26, 2016

Researchers Take a Closer Look at the Income-Life Expectancy Link

A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association examined the correlation between income and life expectancy in the U.S. from 2001-2014. Researchers found that the differences in life expectancy between the richest 1% and poorest 1% of individuals were 14.6 years for men and 10.1 years for women. In discussing their results, the researchers highlighted the following observations:
  1. Based on the data, life expectancy continuously increases with income, i.e., “there was no dividing line above or below which higher income was not associated with higher life expectancy.”
  2. Over the course of the study, inequality in life expectancy increased. “Between 2001 and 2014, individuals in the top 5% of the income distribution gained around 3 years of life expectancy, [while] individuals in the bottom 5% experienced no gains.”
  3. Life expectancy varied significantly across regions. For example, life expectancy of individuals in the lowest income bracket quartile (25%) varied across different local areas by about four years for women and five years for men. These differences may be attributable to additional factors such as regional differences in healthcare access or air pollution. 
Click here to read the full study (free registration required).