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Cass R. Sunstein

Money Doesn't Buy as Long a Life as It Used To

Inequality is shrinking in at least one area: mortality rates.
Starting closer to even.

Starting closer to even.

Photograph: Potter/Express/Getty Images

Here’s some excellent news on inequality: Measured from birth, the gap in life expectancy between rich and poor in the U.S. has been rapidly narrowing. It appears that a variety of policy initiatives, including those designed to promote children’s health and cut smoking, are actually working.

These findings run counter to the widespread view that the economic gap increasingly means that the rich live longer while the poor don’t. That view has some solid research behind it: By some measures, rich people are indeed showing longevity gains, but in many parts of the country, poor people aren’t.