Wealthy people can expect to live seven to nine more years without disability than than their poorer peers, say investigators.

Longer life expectancy is a key indicator of better health, and wealth significantly impacted the quality of those remaining years among British and U.S. study participants. At age 50, adults in the poorest group could expect to live significantly fewer years without disability than those in the richest group, wrote Paola Zaninotto, Ph.D., and colleagues. 

Education also had an impact on years lived with disability, though the correlation was not as strong. Overall inequalities were similar in both the U.S. and England, added Zaninotto, from University College London.

The findings have implications for public spending on older adults’ long-term care needs and work participation for this age group, among other factors, the researchers wrote.  

“In both countries, efforts in reducing health inequalities should target people from disadvantaged socioeconomic groups,” they concluded.

The study was published last week in The Journals of Gerontology.