A new study has found that midlife wealth — that is, wealth held by Americans around the age of 47 — has a strong association with the length of life.
Researchers from Northwestern University conducted a wealth and longevity study of 5,400 adults, about half of whom were siblings and twins. Perhaps unsurprisingly, researchers found that a higher net worth was associated with a lower risk of mortality.
The researchers analyzed data that compared the net worth of participants — all of whom were around 47 years old — and their death rates 24 years later. Those who were wealthier in their mid-40’s lived longer than those who weren’t.
The researchers meted out data to ensure that genetics alone wasn’t at play by using data from siblings and twins. Within the specific data set of brothers and sisters, the association of wealth and long life still held: Richer twins or brothers or sisters were more likely to live longer than their poorer siblings, just as rich strangers are more likely to live longer than wealthy strangers.
“This finding suggests the wealth-longevity connection may be causal, and isn’t simply a reflection of heritable traits or early experiences that cluster in families,” per the research brief in Science Daily.
The study is significant because it proves just how closely wealth is associated with positive health outcomes, noted Senior author Greg Miller. “Far too many American families are living paycheck to paycheck with little to no financial savings to draw on in times of need,” said Senior author Greg Miller. “At the same time, wealth inequality has skyrocketed.”
Building wealth is important for health at an individual level, he added. Policies that support and protect financial security are crucial.
The study makes it clear just how imperative it is to support and create policies like a strong minimum wage, free or affordable health care, free or affordable college, and free or affordable child care. It is a matter of life or death.