Rich people can look forward to an additional nine years of healthy life, researchers have claimed.
The study, published in the Journal of Gerontology, analysed data from more than 25,000 people aged 50 and above in the UK and the US.
At age 50, the wealthiest men lived around an extra 31 years in good health compared with around 22 to 23 years for those in the poorest group.
Women from the wealthiest groups lived an extra 33 years in good health compared with 24 to 25 years for the poorest.
Dr Paola Zaninotto, lead author of the report from University College London, said although life expectancy is a useful indicator of health, the quality of life as we get older is also crucial.
“Our study makes a unique contribution to understanding the levels of inequalities in health expectancies between England and the US where healthcare systems are very different,” she said.
Zaninotto added that improving both the quality and the quantity of years that individuals are expected to live has implications for public expenditure on health, income, long-term care of older people and work participation.
She said the results suggest policymakers must make greater efforts into reducing health inequalities.