Northwestern study finds Americans with higher net worth live longer


Daily file photo by Katie Pach

The Weber Arch. On Thursday, Northwestern announced plans for an accelerator for research and entrepreneurship in Downtown Evanston.

Rebecca Aizin, Summer Managing Editor

A Northwestern study found that Americans with a higher net worth at midlife have a higher chance of living longer, according to a Friday news release. 

Researchers analyzed data from the Midlife in the United States project, a longitudinal study on aging to find a correlation between wealth and longevity. They separated siblings and twins from the data set to differentiate longevity attributed to genetics and wealth. The results showed that the association between wealth and life expectancy may be causal, as the sibling with a greater net worth tended to live longer. 

“The within-family association provides strong evidence that an association between wealth accumulation and life expectancy exists,” corresponding author and postdoctoral fellow Eric Finegood said in the release. “Comparing siblings within the same family to each other controls for all of the life experience and biology that they share.”

It is possible wellbeing factors, such as cancer and heart disease, could affect one’s wealth due to health costs or limiting one’s activities. The researchers took this into account and separated individuals who are not affected by these maladies, and still found the same result. 

“Our results suggest that building wealth is important for health at the individual level, even after accounting for where one starts out in life,” senior author and psychology Prof. Greg Miller said in the release. “So, from a public health perspective, policies that support and protect individuals’ ability to achieve financial security are needed.” 

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Twitter: @rebecca_aizin


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