Class Inequality and Longevity: How Money Will Decide Your Life Expectancy

Class Inequality and Longevity: How Money Will Decide Your Life Expectancy

With greater medican advances come higher costs, and longevity will inevitably become a privilege of the wealthy.

When we discuss income inequality, we’re usually speaking about just that; income. However, there a host of other variables that come with that inequality including healthcare access, education, income and employment opportunity, and longevity. In fact, as we continue to make advances in medical technology and pharmaceuticals, those with the money are going to have the most unrestricted access to those developments, and are going to be able to access them without greatly impacting their livelihood. This is the thrust behind a recent feature in Singularity Hub on the next class inequality: a long life.

It’s not actually a new idea; the rich enjoying a longer, healthier life than the poor. However, the very specific factors that contribute to longevity (and highly favor the wealthy) are now being provided with empirical evidence to back them up. Education, for instance, is one of the larger factors indicating a long life. The better educated one is, the most able they are to assess risks, discern opportunities, and more likely they are to make healthier lifestyle choices. The wealthy are less likely to smoke, more likely to exercise, and more likely to make choices to mitigate things like stress and genetic issues.

On the topic of genetic issues, an interesting study out of England finds significant correlations between hormones and income. A number of hormones in the body that diminish as we age, but that are linked to effects like fighting diabetes, dementia, osteoporosis, and metabolic rates are actually higher in the wealthy than they are in the poor. In fact, the wealthiest group tested also registered the highest level of these kinds of hormones. Of cours,e it’s unclear whether the lifestyles of “the rich and famous” simply generate higher levels, or that something about their level of wealth actually increases their body’s production.

Fitness and safety also measured higher among the wealthy. People that live in wealthier nations tend to die less often of disasters and accidents, presumably because they have greater access to emergency aid and government and organizational entities are better equipped to respond to those situations. Also, levels of fitness among the wealthy are highest, presumably because they have greater access to things like gyms and fitness equipment, and can afford the extra time required. (Nannies, in-home gyms, gym memberships, trainers, etc.)

Although longevity hasn’t been in the forefront of the mainstream conscience in the way that the rest of the nation’s income disparity has, it will be soon. As the country continues to gray, and Medicare and other forms of government assistance for the elderly become more pressing concerns, the healthier, longer lives of the wealthy will become a raw concern for those without them.