ADVANTAGES

Richer, better-educated people live longer than poorer, less-educated people. According to calculations from the National Longitudinal Mortality Survey which tracks the mortality of people originally interviewed in the CPS and other surveys, people whose family income in 1980 was greater than $50,000, putting them in the top 5 percent of incomes, had a life-expectancy at all ages that was about 25 percent longer than those in the bottom 5 percent, whose family income was less than $5,000. Lower mortality and morbidity is associated with almost any positive indicator of socioeconomic status, a relationship that has come to be known as "the gradient." African-Americans have higher but Hispanic Americans lower mortality rates than whites; the latter is known as the "Hispanic paradox," so strong is the presumption that socioeconomic status is protective of health. Not only are wealth, income, education, and occupational grade protective, but so are several more exotic indicators. One study found that life-spans were longer on larger gravestones, another that winners of Oscars live nearly four years longer than those who were nominated but did not win.

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