By Paul Irving
Why would a baby boy born in Fairfax County, Va., expect to live nearly 18 years longer than one born 350 miles away in McDowell County, W. Va.? This question, prompted by the results of a 2013 study, underscores a disturbing reality: America is a land of longevity inequality, with many communities marked by dramatically shorter lifespans than others.
Another recent study — from MIT — shows that the wealthiest 1% of men in the U.S. live 14.6 years longer, on average, than the poorest 1%. Among women in those wealth strata, the gap is more than 10 years.
Alarming consequences stem from this disparity. The injustice even affects how much people receive from federal entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare, which provide support for fewer years to those with shorter lives. It’s a matter of math.