Friday, February 12, 2016

Weird Longevity Science

MSN reports average lifespans of the more and less affluent are becoming more divergent.
Looking at the extreme ends of the income spectrum, economists at the Brookings Institution found that for men born in 1920, there was a six-year difference in life expectancy between the top 10 percent of earners and the bottom 10 percent. For men born in 1950, that difference had more than doubled, to 14 years.
While the article tries to obscure causation, a careful reading shows that most of the differences stem from unhealthy lifestyle choices made by the less affluent. Unhealthy choices tend not to stem from an inability to afford better alternatives, examples include but are not limited to tobacco use, opioid abuse, suicide and drunk driving.

In a meritocratic society like ours, society implicitly assumes the poor lack merit and the poor may themselves accept this negative evaluation. Lack of self-worth has sometimes been associated with unhealthy life choices.