"Life expectancy for the bottom 10 percent of wage earners improved by just 3 percent for men born in 1950 compared with those born in 1920," Tavernise writes. "For the top 10 percent, though, it jumped by about 28 percent. (The researchers used a common measure—life expectancy at age 50—and included data from 1984 to 2012.)" The study found that life expectancy for the bottom 10 percent of male wage earners born in 1920 was 72.9, compared to 73.6 for those born in 1950, while among the top 10 percent, life expectancy increased from 79.1 to 87.2.
One big reason, researchers say, is that smoking rates have decreased among more affluent populations, Tavernise writes. Also, public-health researchers say life expectancy among low-income is hurt by less education and higher rates of obesity and prescription drug abuse. (Read more)