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Affluent Persons Live Longer

Report of September 19, 2012

In Germany, those from affluent households have a significantly higher further life expectancy at the age of 65 than those with low incomes (males: 5 years, females: 3.5 years). The present analysis, which is based on the German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP), indicates that the lower life expectancy of women in low-income households is associated with psychological pressure caused by a shortage of money as well as the lack of social networks. In men from low-income households, low education and a physically demanding job appear to have a negative impact on further life expectancy. Even when a wide range of additional factors are taken into account, a significant income effect remains at least for men: those with a high income at age 65 can expect to live a longer life on average.

In terms of equal opportunities with regard to healthy aging, the clear statistical correlation between income and life expectancy presents a challenge to those responsible for health policy in the narrowest sense as well as social policy in the broadest sense. To align life expectancy of low-income
persons with that of those from affluent households, reform of occupational safety standards and improvements in the promotion of health in the workplace would make sense, as would behavior-related preventive measures and tailored health information campaigns that focus more on raising health awareness among less educated than has been the case to date.

The complete publication in German by Martin Kroh, Hannes Neiss, Lars Kroll and Thomas Lampert in:
DIW Wochenbericht 38/2012 (PDF, 350.5 KB)