A new study published in JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association, conducted by a group of researchers led by Stanford University economist Raj Chetty reported on Monday the results of an investigation that says the rich outlive the poor but the gap may vary depending on other factors like where you live or how much you earn.

The relationship between income and life expectancy is well established, the poor tend to live shorter lives compared to those with a bigger income. But, Raj Chetty, professor of economics at Stanford University claims that among low-income people, big disparities exist in life expectancy from place to place.

Life expectancy is a statistical measure of the average time an organism is expected to live, based on the year of their birth, their current age and other demographic factors including sex. Credit: Wisdom Pills

In the study, Income data for the US population were obtained from 1.4 billion deidentified tax records between 1999 and 2014 and were compared to Mortality data, obtained from Social Security Administration death records. These data were used to estimate race- and ethnicity-adjusted life expectancy at 40 years of age by household income percentile, sex, and geographic area, and to evaluate factors associated with differences in life expectancy.

The results showed what was already know, a staggering division in longevity between America’s richest and poorest. Men who were among the top 1 percent of income earners lived 15 years longer than men in the bottom 1 percent. For women at the extremes of the income distribution, life expectancy differed by 10 years.

This inequality has also gotten worse over time. According to the investigation, between 2001 and 2014 life expectancy increased by 2.3 years for men and 2.9 years for women in the top 5 percent of the income distribution, but on the other hand, it increased by only 0.3 years for men and 0.04 years for women in the bottom 5 percent.

Where you live also have a significant impact on life expectancy

Even though the association between higher and greater longevity is correct, there are some aspects that varied substantially across areas. The study also found that poor people in affluent cities such as San Francisco and New York tend to live longer than people of similar income levels in rust belt cities such as Detroit.

“There are some places where the poor are doing quite well, gaining just as much in terms of life span as the rich, but there are other places where they’re actually going in the other direction, where the poor are living shorter lives today than they did in the past,” Chetty said, in an interview with NPR.

Source: JAMA