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Longevity gap widens between rich and poor


This New York Times story discusses the widening longevity gap between high- and low-income Americans.

“The poor are losing ground not only in income, but also in years of life, the most basic measure of well-being. In the early 1970s, a 60-year-old man in the top half of the earnings ladder could expect to live 1.2 years longer than a man of the same age in the bottom half, according to an analysis by the¬†Social Security Administration. Fast-forward to 2001, and he could expect to live 5.8 years longer than his poorer counterpart.”

The Times noted that “The experience of other countries suggests that disparities do not necessarily get worse in contemporary times. Consider Canada, where men in the poorest urban neighborhoods experienced the biggest declines in mortality from heart disease from 1971 to 1996, according to a 2002 study. Over all, the gap in life expectancy at birth between income groups declined in Canada during that period. And a study comparing cancer survival rates found that low-income residents of Toronto had greater survival rates than their counterparts in Detroit. There was no difference for middle- and high-income residents in the two cities.”

How much of this might be explained by the fact that Canada has a  single-payer health system for all its citizens and how by the much more complicated demographics of the United States?


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