Rich live longer

According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association the rich live longer than the poor. The gap between the life expectancy of people with high and low income has become wider over the last 13 years. The longevity of the rich Americans has increased by 3 years since 2001. However, it hasn’t changed for the poor.

1% of the wealthiest American men live 15 years longer than those with the lowest income. Among women, the gap is about 10 years, The New York Times reported.

Why the Rich Live Longer

It may sound weird but the lifespan of the low-income US citizens depends on where they live.

People with low income live the shortest in Detroit, Tulsa, Gary, Las Vegas. They have longer lives in New York, Santa Barbara, San Jose, Miami.

The lifespan of the poor varies across the cities. There is no such evidence for the rich. Thus, being in the lower income bracket, your choice of where to live in the USA may reflect on how many years you are to live.

If you want to live longer, why not just move to the city with a greater lifespan like New York, Los Angeles or San Francisco?

Why the Rich Live Longer

List of the cities where the poor live the shortest. Source:

Why the Rich Live Longer

List of the cities where the rich live the longest. Source:

The researchers made a finding, which is a bit contradictory to everything that has been known before.

One may think that the richest live longer because their wealth gives access to high-quality medical care. We cannot deny the importance of the medical services, however, things are not so simple.

Actually, the life expectancy does not depend on wealth.

The research has established that health care interventions have a much smaller effect on life span than behavioral factors like smoking and exercise.

Anyone could extend their lifespan — regardless of how much they earn. The only thing the poor have to do is to change their behaviours.

  • The rich live longer not because they have more money but because they maintain a different lifestyle. They smoke less, follow healthy eating habits, exercise more. It helps them to stay in a good shape and have fewer problems with obesity.
  • The low-income residents smoke more and tend to be overweight. That leads to development of diabetes and heart diseases.

So, if an individual with a low income wants to live as long as the rich live, he should maintain a healthy lifestyle.

The researchers found that behavioural patterns also depend on the education level. Residents with higher education smoke less. A such, obtaining a university or college degree contributes to longevity.

Why the Rich Live Longer

Well educated US residents smoke less. (Click to enlarge.) Source:

In fact, everything is interconnected: educated people have a broader outlook and understand the importance of being fit and healthy. They have more possibilities concerning career growth, which increases the income level. The greatest number of people with tertiary education live in such cities like New York and Los Angeles.

The head author of the study Raj Chetty underlines that the main thing is not about why the poor live shorter than people with high incomes. The key point is why low-income people live longer in New York, Santa Barbara and other cities, showing a significantly higher life expectancy.

For example, New York authorities promote a healthier lifestyle by prohibiting smoking in public places and introducing strict regulations concerning food products high in trans fats. The city sustains and increases social expenditures for the most vulnerable groups.

Simple, local policies help the poor people to maintain healthier behaviors, which assist in preventing or delaying various diseases. Such measures enable people to extend their life expectancy.

The conclusion of the report is quite optimistic. Each of us is able to live longer if we stick to a healthy lifestyle: exercise more, keep a well-balanced diet, give up smoking and excessive drinking. It’s a question of our will.

The local authorities also should encourage people to stay healthier by developing comprehensive policies and providing support for those who are in need, the report emphasized.

Why the Rich Live Longer

The gap between the life expectancy of the rich and poor American men is 15 years.


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Chris Salmon
This article is based on a logical fallacy and a root misunderstanding of statistics. Statistical results created from aggregating a large number of individual data points have no meaning when applied to an individual from the population being studied or the sample that was taken and aggregated to make the statistical calculations. You’re taking abstract numbers that only exist for a group or population and saying they have meaning to an individual, when they can’t even exist without an aggregate of many individual data points. The statistics don’t say what you are thinking and saying they do, they can’t ..… Read more »

Chris, here is another statistics: there are 86 men in Russia for 100 women (11 million more women than men). Does it contribute to why Russian women want to marry Americans, even though it doesn’t determine outcome for each girl? Is 80% chance to win better than 20% chance to win? On average, smokers and people who are overweight will live less than slender non-smokers. There is still no 100% guarantee (you can be hit by a bus), but there is a good chance to increase your life span. If you wish, of course.

Chris Salmon
Elena, first let me apologize for being a little bit sharp in my wording. I was frustrated because I had just written a nice post explaining this concept better on a new computer with a new wireless keyboard I just set up, and somehow I fumble fingered it, left the page without posting and lost the whole post. Arrgh! So that’s my fault, and my words came out angrier than they should have been, and I apologize. Secondly, regarding your first question, I don’t wish to be redirected to an entirely different discussion of how knowledge of gender ratios might… Read more »
Chris, I actually studied statistics and principles of scientific research for 2 semesters at university when doing my Masters degree. Did you? Or do you gather all your knowledge from short articles online? 🙂 I agree with Mark Twain that “there are lies, dumned lies, and statistics”. But it doesn’t change the facts: while no single individual is determined entirely by statistically valid outcomes, the population in general is. In any research I read, the first thing I look at is the methodology: how the data sample was obtained, the size, the analytical methods used to get to the conclusions.… Read more »

There are always inceptions in life but conclusions of scientific researches look logic. If you are rich you can have better medical service, you can rest and live in better conditions, eat more quality food. I want to be rich very much now))