The relationship between income and life expectancy is demonstrated by numerous studies. In a recent investigation, US scientists have now made a detailed evaluation of 1.4 billion tax documents from the years 1999 to 2014 and the corresponding death certificates. They could not only measure the effects of income on life expectancy, but also analyze the development over fifteen years. Their conclusion: income has a decisive influence on life expectancy, and in the last fifteen years the differences between the rich and the poor populations have grown further.
The Stanford University researcher Raj Chetty has used the data from 1.4 billion tax records to estimate the impact of the income on the average life expectancy at the age of 40 years. They found that "the gap in life expectancy between the richest and the poorest percent of people was 14.6 years for men and 10.1 years for women."The income thus has a considerable influence on the life expectancy. The results of their study have been found in the specialist magazine "JAMA".
The life expectancy of the rich also increased significantly
The scientists not only noticed that the richest people in the USA on average live significantly longer than the poorest persons, but they could also prove that theDifferences in life expectancy have increased over time. Thus the life expectancy for the five percent of the men with the highest income in the study period rose by 2.34 years and for women this income segment by 2.91 years. On the other hand, life expectancy rose by only 0.32 for the poorest five per cent of men and by only 0.04 for the women of this income group. The gap in life expectancy between rich and poor population groups has therefore risen significantly in the US during the past 15 years.
Regional differences in life expectancy
In the course of their investigation, US researchers have also found that life expectancy varies significantly for people with low incomes. Raj Chetty and colleagues report that deviations of up to 4.5 years are possible in the life expectancy. The researchers have also analyzed which factors influence the geographical differences in life expectancy, in particular the legislation on the protection of non-smokers and the restriction of tobacco consumption as a significant factor. Also the life expectancy for people with low income in regions with a high proportion of immigrants and / or university graduates show clearly increased, writes the researchers. Likewise, the life expectancy of low-income persons would have had a high impact on public spending in the respective regions.
Even in Germany, poor people are much shorter than rich
In view of the growing gap between poor and rich population groups, the demonstrable effects of income on life expectancy are extremely serious. This applies not only to the USA, but also to Germany. Researchers from the Robert Koch Institute( RKI) had already identified the link between income and mortality risk or life expectancy in 2014 on the basis of data from the so-called socio-economic panel( SOEP).According to this, women and men whose incomes were below the poverty threshold showed a mortality risk of 2.4 or 2.7 times higher in relation to the highest income group.
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Only 84% of women living in relative poverty reach the 65th.93% of the relatively wealthy women reach this age limit, the experts of the RKI reported. In the case of the men, the differences were even more pronounced. According to the researchers, the deviation of the mean life expectancy between the poorest and richest population groups in Germany was 10.8 years for men and 8.4 years for women. Here, poorer population groups and, in particular, children are significantly disadvantaged with regard to life expectancy.(fp)