“When we talk about income and wealth inequality, we’re not just talking about somebody having a nicer house or newer car or some fancy electronic gadgets. What we are talking about now, in an unprecedented way, is literally a life and death issue. Working people now live significantly shorter lives than wealthy Americans,” Sen. Bernie Sanders said. “Income and wealth inequality means that while upper-income people can now often live vital and healthy lives until they are 85 or 90, we are seeing an actual decrease in life expectancy for low-income and working people.”
According to an article posted Wednesday by the online Aeon Magazine, “the life expectancy gap between the affluent and the poor and working class in the United States is 12.2 years.” College-educated white men can expect to live to age 80, while counterparts without a high-school diploma die by age 67. White women with a college degree have a life expectancy of nearly 84, compared with other women who live to 73. “Poverty is a thief,” Michael Reisch, a professor of social justice at the University of Maryland, recently told a U.S. Senate panel. “Poverty not only diminishes a person’s life chances, it steals years from one’s life.” Reisch was a witness at a hearing that Sanders chaired last November.
“The struggle over income and wealth inequality is the struggle over whether all people have the opportunity to live long and healthy lives or whether that is something only for the wealthy and the privileged,” the senator said.