Many recent studies find the life expectancy gap is growing. By how much depends on how and when it’s measured. In 2014, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) calculated that a 65-yearold man in the upper quintile (fifth) of life earnings could be expected to live more than three years longer than a similar man in the lowest quintile. By 2039, the difference would double to six years.
In a 2015 report, the National Academy of Sciences compared the 1930 and 1960 birth cohorts and found that life expectancy for the bottom quintile of men at age 50 decreased slightly to 26.1 years over the 30-year period. Meanwhile, life expectancy rose for men age 50 in higher-income quintiles. As shown in Figure 1, the life expectancy gap between the bottom (quintile 1) and top fifth of the income distribution widened from 5.1 to 12.7 years. In 2016, a Brookings study found, for men born in 1940, those in the lowest income decile at age 50 could expect to live to be about 76 years old compared with 88 years for the highest income decile. Another research team, led by Raj Chetty, found that disparity in longevity continued to increase over 2001–2014; the average gap between the bottom and top 1 percent was 14.6 years for men and 10.1 years for women.
Author(s): Karl Polzer
Publication Date: August 2020
Publication Site: In the Public Interest, SOA