Canadian study explores rich-poor divide in life expectancy

High-income individuals were found to live up to eight years longer than their low-income counterparts

Canadian study explores rich-poor divide in life expectancy

A study of Canadians in different income groups has revealed that a difference in earning ability translates to a gap in lifespans, with higher-income groups having a longer life expectancy.

The figures were determined by the CD Howe Institute based on Canada Pension Plan statistics for Canadians born between 1923 and 1955, reported CBC News.

According to the institute’s analysis, men ranked around the 80th percentile in terms of earnings have a life expectancy of 83, while the lowest-income workers can expect to live to 75. The gap for women is narrower, with a life expectancy of 86 found for the richest group as compared to 83 for the poorest.

“We talk about income inequality, but this is one of the most fundamental inequalities there is — how long you live, how many years you have with your family,” said Kevin Milligan, a fellow in residence at the CD Howe Institute and co-author of the study.

The study found that life expectancies have been rising across Canada since the 1960s, but the gap between high-income men and low-income men hasn’t changed. This differs from findings in the US, where the poorest 20% have undergone almost no extension in life expectancy while the lifetimes of the richest have increased substantially, creating a longevity gap of 14 years.

The picture is substantially murkier for Canadian women, however. Milligan, who is also a professor at the Vancouver School of Economics, noted that women born in the 1920s are not likely to have joined the workforce, while those born in the 1950s likely worked at some point. Women who stay at home may also be regarded as poor due to lack of earned income even if they lived their lives in high-income households.

The authors couldn’t determine a causal relationship between higher income and longer lives, but factors such as occupation, education levels, and lifestyle differences are likely to have played a role.