Poverty a Death Sentence, Sanders Declares, as GAO Links Inequality to Mortality
WASHINGTON, September 8 – A groundbreaking Government Accountability Office (GAO) study commissioned by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), released today, provides a comprehensive picture of income, wealth, life expectancy, and retirement security among older Americans. GAO found not only that the rich are getting richer and the poor, poorer, but provided evidence that led Sanders to conclude that poverty is, in effect, a death sentence: The rich are living longer lives, while poor Americans are dying young.
GAO found that among Americans aged 51-61 in 1992, fewer than half of those in the poorest 20 percent of America’s wealth distribution had survived by 2014—48 percent. Among the richest 20 percent, 75.5 percent were still alive. The poorest 20 percent were twice as likely to die over the 22-year period than the wealthiest 20 percent.
“Poverty is a life-threatening issue for millions of people in this country, and this report confirms it,” said Sanders. “We are in a crisis never before seen in a rich, industrialized democracy. For three straight years, overall life expectancy in the wealthiest nation in world history has been declining, often driven by deaths of desperation and despair: liver disease, drug overdoses, and suicide. We must put an end to the obscene income and wealth inequality in our country, and ensure living wages, quality health care, and retirement security for our seniors as human rights. If we do not urgently act to solve the economic distress of millions of Americans, a whole generation will be condemned to early death." Read more »
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