Last modified: 7:58 AM Saturday, 14 January 2017

“Character-disordered individuals, unencumbered by qualms of conscience, pursue their personal
goals with indifference to and often at the expense of the rights and needs of others.”

George K. Simon, Jr.

Poverty kills

Why some Americans aren’t living longer

As Social Security policy becomes a focus for discussion again with the recent Republican takeover of the House of Representatives, advocates of fundamental changes to the program will repeat their chorus: that since longevity is increasing, retirement age should rise with it. This seems logical until one takes a closer look at the statistics.

Poverty kills

Poverty kills. Let me count the ways.
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Such examination reveals two phenomena that tend to confound the preceding argument. One is that falling rates of infant mortality explain the majority of the total increase in lifespans. The other, and less known, is that adult longevity is in part a function of economic class.

This should come as no surprise: One need merely consider the parameters of life to understand why, as our society is structured, such a disparity is inevitable. Even allowing for the vagaries of individual traits and behaviors, here are five broad categories in which poverty shortens lives:

Poverty takes almost ten years off your life

Poverty takes almost ten years off your life.
[ Image Source ]

An author whose name I have forgotten asks cogently, “Are some men less important than others, so that they should die sooner?”

Many on the political right would say “yes” to this. But if so, who is to judge? And by what measures? Rush Limbaugh unquestionably has more money than Edgar Allan Poe ever did; in part for that reason, he has already lived longer than Poe’s forty years. But a century hence, whose name will our posterity remember with reverence?

Originally published as a review of a New York Times opinion article on income and life expectancy.

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