Jan 22, 2020

Social mobility may explain life expectancy gap between rich and poor

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals

A pharmacy technician grabs a bottle of drugs off a shelf in 2018. Photo: George Frey/Getty Images

Social mobility — the ability to move up the income ladder — can help explain the gap between the life expectancies of the rich and the poor, according to a new study in JAMA Internal Medicine.

What they found: Counties with higher social mobility tend to have smaller life expectancy gaps between the rich and poor, and the poorest people in those counties live longer.

Between the lines: Drug, alcohol and suicide-related deaths — which have led to declining U.S. life expectancy — are labeled as "deaths of despair" and are often linked to decreasing socioeconomic prospects.

  • "A growing body of literature suggests that living in areas with low social mobility may harm individuals’ health by reducing their beliefs about future well-being, consequently increasing stress or diminishing the motivation to engage in healthy behaviors," the authors write.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Updated 28 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Esper catches White House off guard with opposition to military use, photo op

Defense Secretary Mark Esper said at a press briefing Wednesday that he does not currently support invoking the Insurrection Act, an 1807 law that permits the president to use active-duty troops on U.S. soil, in order to quell protests against racial injustice.

Why it matters: President Trump threatened this week to deploy military forces if state and local governments aren't able to squash violent protests. Axios reported on Tuesday that Trump is backing off the idea for now, but that he hasn't ruled it out.

Updates: George Floyd protests continue for 9th day

Demonstrators march on Pennsylvania Avenue on June 3. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Largely peaceful protests over the death of George Floyd and other police-related killings of black people continued Wednesday, marking nine straight days of demonstrations.

The latest: As several major cities moved to lift curfews, NYPD officers "aggressively" dispersed large crowds in Brooklyn and Manhattan beyond New York City's 8 p.m. curfew, per the New York Times. The National Guard was stationed outside many protests Wednesday night, including in Hollywood and Atlanta.

Trump hits back at Mattis: "I gave him a new life"

President Trump speaks at the White House. Photo: Doug Mills - Pool/Getty Images

President Trump unloaded on his former defense secretary via Twitter on Wednesday, hours after James Mattis condemned him for making a "mockery of our Constitution" in his response to mass protests in the wake of George Floyd's killing.

What he's saying: "Probably the only thing Barack Obama & I have in common is that we both had the honor of firing Jim Mattis, the world’s most overrated General. I asked for his letter of resignation, & felt great about it. His nickname was 'Chaos', which I didn’t like, & changed it to 'Mad Dog'"