Being rich helps you stay healthy for longer, study finds

Being wealthy can add years to a healthy lifespan, new research suggests.

A study published in the Journal of Gerontology found that the richest individuals live around eight to nine years more free from disability than those who are the poorest.

In their research, experts analysed more than 25,000 people aged 50 and over from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing and the US Health and Retirement Study.

No major differences between the UK and the US was discovered when it came to life expectancy, however wealth played a significant role in how many years they would be free from disability.

At age 50, the wealthiest men in England and the US lived around an extra 31 years in good health compared with 22-23 years for those in the poorest group.

Similarly, women from the wealthiest groups in England and the US lived around an extra 33 healthy years in comparison with 24-25 years for the poorest.

“Inequalities in healthy life expectancy exist in both countries and are of similar magnitude,” the team, led by University College London (UCL), concluded.

“In both countries efforts in reducing health inequalities should target people from disadvantaged socioeconomic groups.”

The study was conducted by collecting data in 2002 and following people for up to a decade to see how they fared.

Dr Paola Zaninotto, lead author of the report from UCL, said: “While life expectancy is a useful indicator of health, the quality of life as we get older is also crucial.

“By measuring healthy life expectancy we can get an estimate of the number of years of life spent in favourable states of health or without disability.

“Our study makes a unique contribution to understanding the levels of inequalities in health expectancies between England and the US where healthcare systems are very different.”