Money May Not Buy You Happiness, But It Does Buy You a Few Extra Years

Researchers at Northwestern University say that every time another $50,000 is accumulated by middle age, an individual’s risk of death drops by five percent. In addition, for those who had stashed $139,000 more than a sibling, their chances of outliving them increased by 13 percent.

The study is based on 5,400 Americans tracked for almost a quarter of a century, as part of the Midlife in the United States (MIDUS) project, a longitudinal study on aging. Information on participants, with an average age of 46, was collected from 1994 to 1996. They were followed until 2018 by which time just over 1,000, almost a fifth, had died.

The study results suggest affluence leads to good health, rather than being a reflection of heritable traits or early experiences that cluster in families.

The bottom line? Having more money reduces mortality risk.

Dr. Eric Finegood, one of the co-authors of the study, believes the findings should be interpreted through a broader societal lens.“The U.S. ranks first in economic inequality among high-income nations. Over the past 30 years, the gap has widened through policies and practices that have diverted a substantial and increasing share of wealth from lower and middle-income groups to the affluent. Such redistribution may have implications for longevity patterns in the coming decades. Policies to reduce the wealth gap, if implemented, could be expected to generate substantial returns to public health.”

Who would have thought being wealthy would have led to a longer life span . Well, I for one am not surprised. Being wealthy gives you access to better shelter, better food options, and potentially a richer social life, all of which would likely have a positive impact on life expectancy.

But as was discussed on this blog before, just living a longer life may not be the right goal.

But living a longer life, while healthy and wealthy, seems like a winning strategy.

Source: StudyFinds

51 thoughts on “Money May Not Buy You Happiness, But It Does Buy You a Few Extra Years

  1. Doing the math, it seems that if you save $1,000,000, your risk of death drops 100%, and thus you will live forever. But living longer than a sibling, when you’ve saved more, may simply indicate that you’ve been more healthy than your sibling, and thus able to save more. That better health would logically equate to a longer life. I’m no peer of these learned scientists, but if I was, those are two points I’d bring up in my peer review.

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  2. Money may help you live longer, but do you really want to live longer if you aren’t happy? You read about so many famous rich stars that are miserable.

    Though I am sure I could be very happy in a beach house which I could have if I was rich! Not to mention a villa in Italy as well and the Swiss Alps. 🙂

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    1. I agree; there’s not much value in living a long life if you aren’t happy. and Iwould be very happy visiting you in all of those places…


  3. Money provides access to things that improve life expectancy. That does not surprise me in the least. And for some, how long they live is very important. For me, I am less concerned about the length of my life and more concerned about the breadth. I find the best way to cheat death is to find the joy and happiness in whatever days were are given.

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  4. this does not seem to apply to people who come into a sudden amount of money, such as some lottery winners, it tends to shorten their lives if and when they go off the rails. money does buy a comfort level and never having to worry about basic needs being met, and even beyond with healthy food, safe place to live, vacations, access to places to exercise, etc. though i imagine many of their stress levels are higher, working so hard to save so much. i’m all about quality of life over living to be super old, and a little bit of money sure helps.

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  5. So true. Even if longevity runs in your family, it is the quality of life you have as you age that makes the difference. Money provides a better quality, which in turn can result in a longer lifespan. From the food one can afford to buy to the services money can give access to. It isn’t necessary fair but it is true. Even in Canada where we have healthcare provided, not always top tier healthcare, but at least generic healthcare for everyone, the other factors money can influence make a huge difference.

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  6. As a single child, I’ll take these odds anytime 🙂

    Life is incredible, and so many are robbed of its gift for wrong reasons. It’s well worth fighting for it, and we are being gifted this chance every day. Planing ahead makes sense. I liked the positivity behind this research.

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  7. When I was younger, I discounted the benefits of living to be super old with observations about quality of life and breadth of experience. But now that I am in my mid 70’s, I am getting a lot more interested in the super old path.

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  8. I can see how having more money improves the chances of living longer.
    I wonder if the theory holds true for extreme wealth and if it depends on what age the money is acquired. I always say I’m thankful I wasn’t a great athlete who would have been offered multi millions as a teenager because with that kind of dough at that age, who knows what kind of mischief I’d get into. And if I had hundreds of billions, I might do something silly like build a rocket and fly to space.😄

    Regarding income inequality, it blows my mind that the rich, and a certain political party that will remain unnamed, have convinced most people that the best way for them to do a tiny bit better is to give the rich the ability to do a whole lot better. That widely accepted notion is one reason why I say the US is one of the most brainwashed countries ever.

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  9. It seems obvious that having more money will likely improve your chances of getting better health care. Isn’t that the main reason why people with more money are living longer? As others have stated, stress is a great equalizer. I rarely have been sick since I retired.

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  10. Interesting post Jim.. and I think perhaps the stress caused by the thought of being elderly without means to be financially secure does impact your health significantly. Certainly there are real concerns for those on a minimum pension getting enough healthy food, heating in the winter.. having a nest egg will make a huge difference.. will share later today..x

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  11. The lack of money can be quite stressful, which then leads to health problems. Having plenty of money takes away one of life’s stressors. For example, no need to choose between feeding your kids and filling your prescription. Money provides the freedom to leave a job or relationship that is making you miserable. I think the stress/money connection might have already been mentioned in other comments.

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  12. I’m not surprised by the stats, Jim. It just highlights another reason why educational opportunities and livable wages are so important. We all don’t need to own our personal rocket ships, but we all should be able to afford healthcare, nutritious food, and safe shelter. Great article.

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