What has been found here is that greater wealth correlates with greater disability free lifespan. This is not the same as saying that greater wealth causes it.
Being wealthy adds nine years to life expectancy, says study
No, it doesn’t.
Being wealthy adds nine years to healthy life expectancy: a life free from disability and pain, according to transatlantic research.
The 10-year study, conducted across the UK and US, looked at all the social and economic factors behind the reasons why people sink into ill-health as they age.
“We found that socio-economic inequalities in disability-free life expectancy were similar across all ages in England and the US but the biggest socio-economic advantage in both countries and across all age groups was wealth,” said Dr Paola Zaninotto, a professor in epidemiology and healthcare at University College London, which led the research.
Published on Tuesday in the Journal of Gerontology, the data from 10,754 UK adults aged 50 and older, and 14,803 US adults over 50, examined how long people can expect to live free from disabilities and to what extent socio-economic factors play a part.
Firstly, wealth is positively correlated with income. And we can divine the causality too. People who earn more save more and thus become wealthier. Sure, not everyone, but that’s the way the averages work out. Ill health – for whatever random reason – reduces your earning power and thus your likely end state of wealth.
Entirely willing to believe that the income/wealth thing works the other way too, that higher incomes and greater wealth lead to better health. Also, that the very factors that lead to the greater wealth – foresight, delayed gratification say – also lead to the better health. Smoking, say, is negatively correlated with income.
The paper has actually found something much, much, more interesting. The US is a more unequal (about 40 or 50 basis points on the Gini) country than the UK. And yet they’ve found that the difference in disability free lifespan is the same. Inequality therefore isn’t leading to the difference in disability free lifespan, is it?
Equally, the NHS is socialist health care. The US is rather more capitalist. Yet we’ve the same end result – thus it’s not the health care system either, is it?
Which is rather enjoyable. The paper is actually proving the opposite of what The Guardian is claiming it does. It’s not wealth inequality that causes the health inequality.