America's life-expectancy income-gap widens precipitously

For years, researchers have tracked the discrepancy in average life-expectancy predicted by income equality, and, as with the wealth gap itself, this life-expectancy gap just keeps getting wider.

A new, Bernie Sanders-commissioned report from the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office reveals that, as with the gap in wealth between the 1% and the 10%, there is a large gap in life-expectancy between the top 1% and the top 10%, and the top 10% and the 11th-20th percentiles.

As alarming as this might be to wealthy people who aren't quite wealthy enough to expect those extra years, things are worst for the poorest 80%, whose expected lifespans have decreased so much that the national median life-expectancy for all Americans is actually in decline, as the losses for poor people swamp the gains made by the rich, the super-rich, and the unfathomably rich.

What kills old people without enough money? A major factor is a lack of retirement savings, which is an artifact of the annihilation of employer-managed, defined-benefit pensions in favor of 401(k)s and similar systems that make your ability to feed yourself in your old age contingent on your ability to successfully guess which stocks to buy (notably, your bad pension market decisions represent profit for the people who have the most money in America).

Another factor: the lack of stable housing (thanks in part to the foreclosure crisis and the erosion of tenant protections).

“Over time, the top fifth of the income distribution is really becoming a lot wealthier — and so much of the health and wealth gains in America are going toward the top,” said Harold Pollack, a health-care expert at the University of Chicago who was not involved in the creation of the report. “In these fundamental areas — life expectancy, health — there are these growing disparities that are really a failure of social policy.”

The GAO report was commissioned in 2016 by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who sits on the Senate Budget Committee, after he met with people from McDowell County, W.Va., where the life expectancy is 64 years, according to the senator’s aides. That is on par with Mongolia. Fairfax County, Va., about 350 miles away, has a life expectancy of 82 years.

Poor and middle-class Americans are much less likely to survive into their 70s than the wealthy, federal report says [Christopher Ingraham and Jeff Stein/Washington Post]

(via Naked Capitalism)