Why Are Rich People Healthier?

I have always been intrigued by the idea that your wealth could have a major impact on your health.

Certainly when we look back at the richest people in history we find many people who lived very long lives. Andrew Carnegie lived to 83, John D Rockefeller to 97, Henry Ford to 83 and Scrooge McDuck is still going strong when he must be about 100.

So what are the factors which help well off people live longer?

They Suffer Less Stress

At first this point seems to be the wrong way round. After all, isn’t it pretty stressful to manage a huge amount of money and run a successful business? It seems fair to say that people like Rockefeller and Ford worked long days over many years. However, I always remember one of my first bosses telling me that you only suffer stress when you aren’t in control of the situation. Real stress comes from worrying about whether you are going to lose your job, how you are going to pay your mortgage and how you are going to put food on the table at the end of the month. This is the kind of stress which can cause health problems and shorten your life expectancy.

They Live in Better Houses and Neighbourhoods

I have never felt the urge to live in a mansion behind giant security gates and with a pack of snarling dogs outside. Having said that, I can’t deny that living in a warm house in a nice neighbourhood has got to be better for your life than living somewhere that is not so nice. I have never lived in a slum but when I was a kid our humble abode had some dampness on my bedroom wall. It wasn’t a huge deal but I suffered a lot from bronchitis -and still do at times – which is probably because of this according to my doctor. If you imagine the precarious conditions which many people live in all over the world it is easy to see that having access to better living conditions can really help you live longer.

They Can Afford to Spend Money on Better Quality Food

If I go back to my own childhood again for a moment; I wasn’t some sort of Oliver Twist like waif but I definitely didn’t eat the healthy, balanced diet I do now. Often the cheapest food around isn’t the best or most nutritional. In the UK, for example, fast food and frozen supermarket meals are among the cheapest ways of eating on a budget, which isn’t going to be great for your health.

They Get Better Medical Care

The differences between expensive medical care, free medical care and no medical care are huge. In the UK we are lucky to have a decent and free medical service. It might not be ideal but it is better than nothing. However, if you have ever received expensive, private medical attention then you will appreciate that having the money to pay for this kind of thing makes a real difference. If I was extremely wealthy I would make sure that high quality medical care for me and my family was the priority. In fact, even without being very rich I still class this as hugely important.

A More Comfortable Life

Finally, this last point is one which is perhaps becoming less relevant over the years. It used to be that the poorest people had the toughest, most physical jobs, like mining, factory work and such like. These days you can still live a comfortable life without much cash.

Do you think you would be healthier if you were richer?

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8 Responses to Why Are Rich People Healthier?

  1. Being able to afford better food and care may have something to do with it…but I would put my money on stress. Look at world leaders? they seem to age decades during just a few years in office…
    Brock @cleverdude recently posted..Carnival Of Personal Finance #447 – The NFL Conference Championship EditionMy Profile

  2. Alex says:

    On the other side riches can lead to gluttony. The difference is, the less wealthy are more easily led to unhealthy vices such as cheap confectionery at discount stores. The rich continue to choose their rate of consumption and can pay for any medical bills at the end of the day.
    Also an expensive personal trainer is something the wealthy can afford. I’d probably have one to whip me into shape if I ever I discovered a goldmine.
    Alex recently posted..Yakezie Carnival of Personal Finance: ‘new beginnings’ editionMy Profile

  3. I definitely agree with all the points above. They can afford better quality food, healthcare and gym memberships. They don’t have to worry about money! Stress will definitely deteriorate your health and may also lead to smoking and drinking etc.
    Charlie @ Our Journey To Zero Debt recently posted..Cutting It Close! (Part 1 of 2)My Profile

  4. I honestly think the number one reason is education. People don’t understand how incredibly bad the food they’re eating is. As long as it’s not McDonald’s or ice creams they automatically think “healthy” and it’s just not true.
    Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life recently posted..Personal Finance Mash UpMy Profile

  5. Marie @ 4HWD says:

    I agree with you, but for me even if I’m not rich I can even live healthier. By doing a 10 minute simple work out, eat more vegetables and fruits.
    Marie @ 4HWD recently posted..Should You Follow Your Passion?My Profile

  6. This absolutely makes sense to me. I know we’d be healthier if we were richer b/c we wouldn’t have the extreme stress of paying off a mountain of debt, and we’d definitely eat better.
    Laurie @thefrugalfarmer recently posted..Can You “Bootstrap” Your Way Out of Poverty?My Profile

  7. I know I could probably eat healthier, but I do work out quite intensely 4-5x a week. I feel I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in my life.

    If anything, my well-being would probably be better if I was richer. Even though I have two jobs, am quite frugal, I still worry about retirement and paying off my mortgage. Perhaps I would sleep better at night knowing that I would always have enough money.
    MakintheBacon recently posted..Secondhand isn’t Second ClassMy Profile

  8. Adam Kamerer says:

    I remember how much a weight it took off our shoulders when we built out first little emergency fund — and that was just $1,000 to start, but it meant that a whole class of little emergencies were no longer stressful crises. Prior to that, even minor problems like a failing dryer or a car repair would have been a major hurdle for us — and with it came a host of physical symptoms. Headaches, increased blood pressure, tension. I think we often underestimate that kind of agonizing has on our health.

    Once we built an emergency fund, those sort of symptoms went away. A car repair became something vaguely annoying, but it wasn’t something I needed to stress over for days trying to decide what to do about it.

    I can imagine that as our assets increase, that will become true for larger disruptions, including things like loss of an income stream or a medical emergency.
    Adam Kamerer recently posted..Enter Our YNAB Personal Budget Software Giveaway!My Profile

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