The more money you earn, the longer you will live, the study suggests.

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It suggests affluence leads to good health, rather than being a reflection of heritable traits or early experiences that cluster in families. Moreover, the same phenomenon was identified among the 2,490 who were twins or siblings. Big earners were more likely to outlive brothers and sisters on smaller salaries. “A difference of $139,000 was associated with a 13 percent relative decrease in the probability of death nearly 24 years later, favoring the family member with a higher net worth,” says Dr. Finegood. “The within-family association provides strong evidence an association between wealth accumulation and life expectancy exists,” explains Finegood. “Comparing siblings within the same family to each other controls for all of the life experience and biology that they share.”

“One of the keys to a long life may lie in your net worth,” says corresponding author Dr. Eric Finegood, a postdoctoral fellow in the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern. in a statement. The study is based on 5,400 Americans tracked for almost a quarter of a century.

Unsurprisingly, the COVID-19 pandemic widened the wealth gap. Amid the misery, the number of millionaires in the U.S. rose last year by 5.2 million – to over 56 million. Mortality rates fell five percent for every additional $50,000 of net worth accumulated by middle age. Researchers at Northwestern University say that every time another $50,000 accumulated by middle age, an individual’s risk of death drops. And for those who had stashed $139,000 more than a sibling, their chances of outliving them increased.

In the full sample, having more money reduced mortality risk. A similar trend was identified among the segment of siblings. A person with more financial assets tended to live longer than a brother, sister or twin who didn’t earn as much. “These findings should be interpreted through a broader societal lens,” says Finegood. “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.” The study, published in JAMA Health Forum, used survival models to work out the connection between net worth and longevity. Factors of genetics and wealth were teased apart by dividing the men and women into subsets of siblings and twins.

The first analysis of its kind used data from 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. ‘Building wealth is important for health’

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