weekly blog--one for the ages
Life expectancy very much depends on where you land on the economic ladder, according to a recent study by Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research. Between 1979 and 2011 the increase in lifespans was much larger for more educated, higher-earning Americans than the gains for people with less education and lower incomes.
Important factors in the socioeconomic divide...while all Americans are smoking less today, those in lower socioeconomic groups still smoke much more. Today, one in four of them is a smoker, compared with just one smoker for every 10 people who attended college. And like smoking, obesity is more pervasive among less-educated people. There are two primary culprits: less exercise and diets high in salt and fats. The risks linked to inactivity and poor diet--heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and some cancers.
A new Harvard study shows that recent income gains--from investments, property appreciation, and retirement income--have gone disproportionately to the highest earners in the 65-and-older age group, while the number of older households burdened by housing costs has reached an all-time high.
The number of households headed by someone over 65 climbed from 27 million to 31 million in the period studied. Within that age group, incomes of those in the top 10 percent rose 22 percent, while incomes of those in the bottom 10 percent fell 4 percent. Over-65 homeownership rates as a whole dipped to among the oldest Americans. The percentage of single-person households is rising, with the number living alone projected to more than double to 10 million by 2038.
Harvard researchers also cited figures from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development showing an uptick in homelessness among older adults. The percentage of the homeless population that is over 50 jumped from 22.9 percent to 33.8 percent from 2007 to 2013, with the number of people over 62 living in housing shelters rising nearly 70 percent to 76,000.