Rich people live healthy lives nearly a decade longer than poor people, according to a new study.
Researchers from the University College London found that wealthy men and women live an average of eight to nine years longer with healthy, disability-free lives than the poorest people, the study published Wednesday in The Journals of Gerontology said.
“While life expectancy is a useful indicator of health, the quality of life as we get older is also crucial. By measuring healthy life expectancy we can get an estimate of the number of years of life spent in favourable states of health or without disability,” Dr Paola Zaninotto, the report’s lead author, said in a statement.
The study analyzed data of people in the U.S. and England, and divided people into three different groups based on their total household wealth.
Researchers found that those in the wealthiest group could expect to live healthy lives free of disabilities nearly 10 years longer than those in the poorest group.
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“The socioeconomic disadvantage in disability-free life expectancy was largest for wealth, in both countries: people in the poorest group could expect to live seven to nine fewer years without disability than those in the richest group at the age of 50,” the study said.
At age 50, the wealthiest group of men were expected to live 31 years of healthy life on average. People in the poorest group, however, were expected to live an average of 22-23 years of the same.
Women at age 50 in the wealthiest group were expected to live 33 healthy years, while people in the poorest group could expect to live 24 to 24.6 years of healthy life, the study found.
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The study said “there was a consistent advantage for people in high socioeconomic groups, particularly for wealth and education, so that they could expect to live a higher number of years without disability.”
Researchers urged policy makers to take action to eliminate the inequalities.
“We know that improving both the quality and the quantity of years that individuals are expected to live has implications for public expenditure on health, income, long-term care of older people and work participation and our results suggest that policy makers in both England and the US must make greater efforts into reducing health inequalities,” Zaninotto said in a statement.