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The life expectancy of poor and rich people is increasingly drifting apart


Rich people live on average around ten years longer

The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer - this observation has been the subject of much debate recently. Now there is a new insight: the rich are getting older and the poor are dying earlier. According to a recent study, the much-discussed gap between rich and poor people also has a massive impact on general life expectancy. There is now a difference in life expectancy of an average of ten years.

The gap in life expectancy among the richest and poorest in society is widening. This is the result of an investigation by Imperial College London. The researchers evaluated over 7.5 million deaths that were registered in England between 2001 and 2016, taking into account the financial situation of the deceased. It showed that the gap in life expectancy has widened rapidly since 2001. In 2001 the poorest section of the population lived around six years shorter than the richest. In 2016 the difference was ten years. The study results were recently published in the specialist journal "Lancet Public Health".

A deeply worrying trend

The results of the study are described by the researchers as "deeply disturbing". According to the study results, the current life expectancy of English women in the most disadvantaged population groups in 2016 was 78.8 years compared to 86.7 years in the richest group. The life expectancy of men was 74.0 years for the poorest, compared to 83.8 years for the richest.

Social injustice in the health system

"Declining life expectancy in the poorest strata of the population is a deeply worrying indicator of our nation's state of health and shows that we are leaving out the most vulnerable," said the lead author of the study, Professor Majid Ezzati, on the state of the English health system .

There is mainly poor nutrition for the poor

The professor sees one reason for this trend in eating habits. "The price of healthy foods such as fresh fruit and vegetables has risen compared to unhealthy processed products, making them too expensive for the poorest," said Ezzati in a press release. In addition, there would be cuts in the healthcare system, which would have resulted in certain diseases such as cancer or dementia such as Alzheimer's being diagnosed too late in poorer people.

Children living in poverty are particularly hard hit

According to the researchers, the trend ran through all clinical pictures. However, the difference was most pronounced in the mortality rate of newborns and children. In 2016, 2.5 times as many children under the age of five died in poorer families than in wealthy families. Other diseases where the difference was particularly noticeable are, according to the study, respiratory diseases, heart diseases, lung and colon cancer and dementia.

Is there not enough help due to lack of money?

"This study suggests that the poor in England die of diseases that can be prevented and treated," said Ezzati. Higher investments in health and social care are needed to counter this trend. The English research team also calls for healthy food to become more affordable so that a family's income does not determine the quality of the diet.

What is the trend in Germany?

An analysis by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) in 2014 comes to similar results that even exceed the English divide. According to the RKI, the difference in life expectancy between rich and poor is 8.4 years for women and 10.8 years for men. In addition, the premature risk of death among people living in poverty is higher. "The results show that women and men whose income is below the poverty risk limit have a mortality risk that is 2.4 or 2.7 times higher than that of the highest income group," the RKI experts report in their study results . (vb)

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