Rich People Literally Outlive the Teeming Plebs


You’ve long suspected it, but a new study cinches it: Despite the twin temptations of gout and coke, in aggregate the rich live longer than the rest of us. Warren Buffett will bury us all. Jimmy Buffett too, for that matter.

The Atlantic reports on numbers from Brookings’ Barry Bosworth, whose research demonstrates that yes, statistically, the wealthy do live longer. (It’s amazing what being able to afford your credit card bills can do for your blood pressure!) So the Atlantic‘s Derek Thompson ran the numbers to determine the going rate for an extra year of life. It ain’t cheap:

For middle-class men now in their mid-60s and older, each $4,000 of extra mid-career income correlated with an extra year of life after 55. “You can’t say that making a certain amount of dollars guarantees more life,” Bosworth said. “What’s fine for you to say is that where the [per-earner] income goes up by about $4,000, that was generally associated with living another year.”

Plus, that’s average per-adult earnings per household, and Bosworth was looking at those who’re in their 60s today, which means plenty of those were probably single-earner households. So it’s more like, “for today’s 60-somethings from single-earner households, an $8,000 raise in their 40s correlated with an extra one year of life in their 70s.” Within reason, anyway.

Now, of course, that money isn’t an individual guarantee. Terms and conditions may apply. You cannot literally purchase a magical elixir of life once you reach a certain tax bracket. (At least, not to my knowledge…but then they WOULDN’T WANT US TO KNOW.) But breaking it out like Thompson does makes the difference a dollar makes starkly apparent—and drives home the very real impacts of income inequality.

But hey, Billy Joel says only the good die young, right?

Photo via Getty.

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