by Andre Damon, WSWS
The gap in life expectancy between higher and lower-income Americans has soared in recent decades, according to the results of a new study commissioned by the US Congress.
In particular, the study, published this month by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, reveals a sharp drop in life expectancy for poorer Americans.
Men in the top fifth of the income distribution have had their life expectancy at age 50 grow from 81.7 years for those born in 1930 (aged 50 in 1980) to 88.8 years for those born in 1960 (aged 50 in 2010). Meanwhile, the poorest fifth of men have had their life expectancy fall from 76.6 years for those born in 1930 to 76.1 years for those born in 1960.
As a result, there is now a life expectancy gap of more than 12 years between the poorest and wealthiest men, compared to a gap of just over five years three decades ago.
The changes are even more dramatic for women. Life expectancy at age 50 for the poorest fifth of women has fallen from 82.3 years for those born in 1930 to 78.3 years for those born in 1960. Meanwhile life expectancy for top-earning women has grown from 86.2 years to 91.9 years for the same period.
Over the past three decades, the gap in life expectancy at age 50 between the poorest and wealthiest women has increased from less than four years to more than 13 years.
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