Income inequality is typically discussed as a 1% versus 99% generality. Increased life expectancy and the benefits of retiring later are also discussed in general terms. The detailed consequences aren’t as simple. More people are working longer, partly from income insecurity, partly from living longer lives. The insecurity can happen with people of any income level; the poor are financially insecure by definition, and the rich may prefer to continue working from fears of not having enough. Life expectancy is also increasing, which has been one of the issues with US Social Security; but there’s a bifurcation in the data. Richer people are living longer, but poor people aren’t. The balance is so skewed that the average is going up, hiding the shorter lifespans of the poor.
“For men born 20 years later in 1940, the difference in average life expectancy is 12 years.” – Brookings
Income inequality is therefore exacerbated among older Americans. The rich continue to make money, make more, and do so longer. The poor are less healthy, see a greater benefit from Social Security and are more likely to take it early, which means the income gap grows. Health care costs also then account for a greater percentage of the poor’s living expenses, meaning they are less likely to be healthy, ironically.
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