Researchers have suggested that the lifespan gaps between the rich and poor in England and Wales are rising for the first time since the 1870s.
“Everyone is living longer, but rich people’s lives are extending faster,” said a report by City University.
“When you have money you can do whatever you want, when you don’t have money you’re restricted therefore it makes your choices limited. Homeless people are there because they want to be not because they have to be,” said Karzel Ryce, unemployed, a 37-year-old from Islington.
Author of the report, Prof Les Mayhew from Cass Business School, said the difference is “mainly due to lifestyle choices”, adding that men from “lower socio-economic groups are more likely to make damaging lifestyle choices”.
He added that “the widening disparity on poor lifestyle choices is to blame – especially smoking, drinking and poor diet are made by the poorest in society”.
According to the figures from the Human Mortality Database, researchers measured the differences in age between the youngest 10% of adult deaths and the oldest 5%. While everyone is living longer, the gap is getting bigger.
A report published in January from the London Health Observatory said that deprived and affluent areas of London saw a life expectancy gap of 25 years.
Vivian Allen, 55, moved from Jamaica to Tottenham Hale three years ago and is currently unemployed. “When you’re rich you disadvantage the poor. It is easier for rich people to change their way of living because they have money but what will the poor people do?” she said.
A Department of Health spokeswoman quoted on the BBC website said: “Everybody should have the opportunity to have a long and healthy life. We have shown that we are willing to take tough action to protect the public’s health.”