A new study measures life expectancy, wealth, and other fundamental aspects of well-being in Canada.
A new study on life expectancy in Canada finds men in the highest earning group can expect to live eight years longer than men who are the lowest earners.
For women, the gap between the richest and the poorest is much less, at just three years. The richest women can expect to live to 86, compared to average life expectancy of 83 for the poorest.
For men, the highest income earners—roughly equivalent to the top 20%—have a life expectancy of 83, while the lowest income workers can expect to live to just 75 years.
The study was performed by the C.D. Howe research institute using figures from the Canada Pension Plan for citizens born between 1923 and 1955.
According to Kevin Milligan, a fellow in residence at C.D. Howe and one of the authors of the study, this is the first time the difference in longevity between rich and poor over a 30-year period has been analyzed in such depth.
“This is a fundamental aspect of well-being.” Milligan told CBC News. “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.”
Life expectancy: Steadily rising
Nevertheless, there was also good news to be found in the study.
Life expectancy in Canada in general has been rising steadily, with men expected to live 7.7 years longer now than they did in 1965 and women expected to live 6.4 years longer.
This is in contrast to the U.S,, where whilst there has been almost no change in longevity for the poorest 20% of the population, there are notable gains for the highest income earners. In the U.S., the longevity gap is 14 years between the richest and poorest.
“Longevity improvements for the low-income people in the US have slowed right down,” Milligan said. “This is something with public policy implications that has to be addressed.”
The study’s Canadian authors suggest that a combination of differences in the healthcare system, the Canadian tax and transfer system, and differences in lifestyle factors such as smoking, diet and exercise may explain the wider gap in the U.S.