476 Life Expectancy Varies Based on Your Income

Speech Materals
Detail of a senior woman holding US banknotes

Detail of a senior woman holding US banknotes

Money may not buy you happiness (or love) but it might just buy you more time to find them.

In the most comprehensive look at life expectancy and income—based on tax returns filed by every American from 1999 to 2014—Raj Chetty, professor of economics at Stanford University, and his colleagues report in JAMA that with more income, people tend to live longer. Some experts had expected that at some point, the relationship would level off so that making more wouldn’t provide any added years, but Chetty’s study showed otherwise. While the amount of added life started to shrink as incomes grew, more money essentially lead to more years of life. Overall, people with the top 1% in income lived nearly 15 years longer than those at the bottom 1%.

At the other end of spectrum, lower income was associated with shorter life spans, with no plateau. That suggests that life spans can’t necessarily be traced to something that people are buying to stay alive longer — such as better health care or state-of-the-art drugs. Yes, medical care is important for longevity, but what’s more important, according to this data, are behaviors that can affect health.

I – Word Understanding

Otherwise – different from what is present or considered
Plateau – a state of little or no change

II – Have Your Say

  1. Is being rich a one way to ensure long life?  Please state your opinion and reasons for believing so.
  2. What are the differences between rich people and poor people  living in urban areas vs. sub-urban or rural areas?
  3. Apart from life expectancy, what do you think are the other impacts of income inequality?  Have you heard of some measures that the government is doing to address this issue?
  4. 476 Life Expectancy Varies Based on Your Income


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