Health and Medicine

There's A Way To Add Nine Years To Your Healthy Life Expectancy, But You Aren't Going To Like It


James Felton

Senior Staff Writer

clockJan 15 2020, 12:45 UTC


A longitudinal study of over 20,000 people has found something so obvious you'll probably shout "yes we know" at your screens in rage: The wealthy live longer, healthier lives than the rest of us.


The study, which looked at 10 years of data, investigated socioeconomic inequalities in disability-free life expectancy in older people in England and the US. In both countries, the participants were placed into groups based on total household wealth, and the health of those groups was measured.

Publishing in The Journals of Gerontology, researchers from University College London found that people from the poorest groups from both countries could expect to live 7-9 fewer years without disability than those in the richest groups at the age of 50. This means that if you are 50 years old and in the richest group, you can expect to live for another 31 years in good health, whereas people in the poorest groups could only expect to live for another 22-23 years without health problems.

This wealth gap was found to be the biggest socioeconomic factor that affected people's healthy life expectancies, and was found in both countries studied.

"Inequalities in healthy life expectancy exist in both countries and are of similar magnitude," the researchers wrote in the study, suggesting that "in both countries, efforts in reducing health inequalities should target people from disadvantaged socioeconomic groups."


“We know that improving both the quality and the quantity of years that individuals are expected to live has implications for public expenditure on health, income, long-term care of older people and work participation, and our results suggest that policymakers in both England and the US must make greater efforts into reducing health inequalities,” they conclude. 

Differences were found between the sexes, with women in both countries being able to expect to live longer disability-free lives than men, although by the time you reach the age of 80, this difference levels out. At age 50, a woman in the US can expect to live 34.7 more years, 28.6 of those disability-free. Men in the US of the same age, can expect to live an extra 31.5 years, with 27.2 disability-free years.

In England, men aged 50 can expect to live an average of 31.3 more years, with 26.9 disability-free years, whereas women can expect to live 34.8 more years and have 28.5 disability-free years.


So if you'd like a quick hack for how to extend your life and quality of life as you age, the tip is to be rich. The Economist has some more tips on how below.


Health and Medicine