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As income inequality rises, researchers are noting a related trend. While those in higher income brackets have seen life expectancy increase significantly in a generation, those on the lower end of the economic spectrum have not. In some counties, life expectancy has actually dropped in certain demographics. A number of factors are involved, including higher rates of smoking, inadequate access to health care, and higher levels of stress. We explore how health care reform and policies to address income inequality might affect the longevity gap.
This chart shows how life expectancy has grown in Washington, D.C., Fairfax, Va., and nationally, between 1989 and 2009.
Male Life Expectancy Across the U.S., 2010. Courtesy of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington
Female Life Expectancy Across the U.S., 2010. Courtesy of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.