For the most versus least wealthy individuals, how different is disability-free life expectancy at age 65 and how have those differences changed over time?
Recent studies have shown that gains in life expectancy have accrued unequally, with gaps as large as 15 years between men in the top and bottom 1% of the income distribution. Likewise, gains in healthy life expectancy—which have outpaced life expectancy’s overall growth—have also accrued unequally. This paper explores the intersection of these findings, analyzing changes in disability-free life expectancy and work-free life expectancy over time and between wealth groups. The results help shed light on the composition of aggregate gains in life expectancy and health at older ages, which in turn helps inform how individuals and institutions can better prepare for retirement.
- The additional years lived by the wealthy are not just extensions of life with illness, but rather increases in healthy years of life.
- The additional healthy years among wealthly in later live has increased compared to those with less wealth, resulting in growing inequality in healthy life expectancy.
- Wealthier individuals are able to work more years due to their healthier lives and have more work-free years in retirement.