Health

A new report shows the association between life expectancy and income varies depending on where a person lives.

The findings were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Researchers from Stanford University found the life expectancy for low-income residents in Louisville is 77.9 years, which places the city in the bottom 10.

The average life expectancy among low-income individuals nationwide is 79.4 years.

Anna Baumann, research and policy associate at the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy, said poor health makes it harder for individuals to climb the income ladder.

“The real physical, emotional and other stressors of poverty are harmful to health, and this is true at the individual level, but it’s also true at the community level,” she said.

The report found the gap in life expectancy between the richest 1 percent and poorest 1 percent was 14.6 years for men and 10.1 percent for women.

Between 2001 and 2014, life expectancy increased by 2.34 years for men and 2.91 years for women in the top 5 percent of earners, according to the report. For earners in the bottom 5 percent, life expectancy increased by only 0.32 years for men and 0.04 years for women.

Baumann said the gap between low-income and higher-earning individuals is problematic.

“Communities can do better by their residents by investing in a safety net so that the harmful consequences of income inequality can be mitigated,” she said.

She said policies that address poverty should aim to raise the minimum wage, enact a state income tax credit, increase excise taxes on cigarettes, and provide statewide pre-school.

The report shows life expectancy for individuals in the lowest-income quartile were significantly correlated with health behaviors such as smoking, but were not significantly correlated with access to medical care, physical environmental factors, income inequality, or labor market conditions.

Alternately, life expectancy for low-income individuals was positively correlated with the number of immigrants and college graduates in the area, and government spending.

Life expectancy for low-income individuals is lowest in Nevada, Indiana and Oklahoma, and highest in California, New York and Vermont.