persistent poverty thumb

Americans are living longer, but according to a new study, the gap in life expectancy between rich and poor people has grown.

The New York Times reports on research showing that in 1980-82 the most affluent Americans lived 2.8 years longer than those with least income (75.8 versus 73 years). Data from 1998-2000 showed that difference had increased to 4.5 years (79.2 to 74.7), “and it continues to grow.”

When researchers Mohammad Siahpush and Gopal K. Singh also took race and gender into account, they found far greater disparities. “Men in the most deprived counties had 10 years’ shorter life expectancy than women in the most affluent counties (71.5 years versus 81.3 years),” Singh said. And rich white women in 2000 were living, on average, 14 years longer than poor black men.

The scholars cite many reasons for the gap, including differentials in smoking, in medical visits and access to diagnostic technology, in environmental safety, and health insurance.

And in Yonder? According to the Economic Research Service, 88% of persistently poor counties are non-metro. (See this report for a larger version of the map above.)

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