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Richer people live 4 years longer than people in poorer areas, says lifespan study

Madrid, Spain – They say money can’t buy happiness, but groundbreaking new research from Spain suggests wealth can promote longer life. Scientists from various groups within the Epidemiology and Public Health Area (CIBERESP) of the Networking Biomedical Research Center (CIBER-ISCIII) report that poorer people live between three and four years less than wealthier individuals.

An extensive team of researchers from the National Center of Epidemiology of the ISCIII, the Biosanitary Research Institute of Granada, the University of Granada and the Andalusian School of Public Health have collaborated to develop the first-ever ‘survival tables’ in Spain. These charts are based on socioeconomic levels, and this breakthrough is likely to prove very useful in the future, study authors say. For example, when studying the survival rates of various diseases such as cancer.

After analyzing the relationship between socioeconomic levels and life expectancy, the study found that women and men living in the poorest areas of Spain live on average 3.2 to 3.8 years shorter than their more affluent counterparts in the wealthiest areas. In addition, researchers calculated that women live an average of 5.6 years longer than men (82.9 years for women, 77.3 years for men). For each Spanish province, life expectancy in the north of the peninsula and in the provincial capitals is generally longer than in rural areas.

The study’s authors assessed all-cause mortality from the 35,960 censuses in Spain collected during the 2011-2013 period. Mortality models were also stratified by gender, age group and socioeconomic level.

The team arrived at these socioeconomic differences using an index developed by the Spanish Society of Epidemiology. This index included information from six primary indicators mainly related to employment and education: percentage of manual workers (both employed and unemployed), temporary workers, percentage of population without secondary education and primary residences without internet access.

Rescue tables are becoming more and more popular worldwide

“Understanding the link between life expectancy and socioeconomic status can help develop appropriate public health programs. In addition, the life tables we have produced are needed to estimate cancer-specific survival measures based on socioeconomic status,” said Daniel Redondo, a CIBERESP researcher at the Biosanitary Research Institute of Granada and the Andalusian School of Public Health, in a press release.

This first-ever creation of life tables based on socioeconomic levels in Spain will help researchers study survival rates from cancer and other chronic diseases by introducing the perspective on health inequality, something other countries like the UK have been doing for a while now. Overall, the researchers believe this will go a long way toward cultivating greater knowledge and understanding of the factors that influence the prognosis of certain diseases in Spain.

“Our life tables are essential for calculating life expectancy and estimating cancer survival, as the inequalities in this disease persist and have a financial impact on health care costs,” explains María José Sánchez, head of the group of the CIBERESP at the Andalusian School of Public Health.

To that end, the researchers say they need even more detailed survival tables that estimate survival rates based on cancer registries that track net survival, probability of death, number of years of life lost from the disease, and other factors.

The study is published in Scientific Reports.

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