Unlike other industrialized countries, the U.S. is seeing a plateau or decline in life expectancy, making it an outlier since higher health expenditures are typically tied with longer lives. One theory attributes that to different health outcomes for rich and poor households, an issue that has been exacerbated by rising income inequality in the U.S.
Wealthier Americans are more likely to live into their 70s and 80s than people in the middle class and the poor, according to a September report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office. In other words, being poor can be hazardous to your health.
And that can lead to significantly different life expectancies, according to a recent Harvard analysis of 15 years’ worth of IRS data. Men who are among the richest 1% of Americans live almost 15 years longer than those who are in the poorest 1%, the Harvard analysis found. The gap was about 10 years for the richest versus poorest women.