(Bloomberg) — People with relatively little education and comparatively low earnings don’t live as long as those with higher levels of education and income.
That much has been known for some time.
But it turns out that this gap is widening significantly, and is starting to have big effects on Social Security, Medicare and other programs.
The growing lifespan gap has been confirmed, most recently, by a committee of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine that we co-chaired, whose report is released Thursday.
Among men born in 1930 who survived to age 50, those in the highest of five earnings categories could expect to live five years longer than those in the lowest category, our analysis found. For men born in 1960 who survived to age 50, the lifespan differential will ultimately amount to almost 13 years. And the picture for women is similar.
More specifically, the lowest earners in both generations had roughly a one-in-four chance of surviving to age 85. Among the higher earners, however, the share of those reaching 85 is rising from less than half in the older generation to two-thirds in the younger one.
These trends mean that high earners will probably receive Social Security, Medicare and other such government benefits for many more years than low earners do.