Association of Wealth with Longevity in US Adults at Midlife

Eric D. Finegood, Daniel A. Briley, Nicholas A. Turiano, Alexa Freedman, Susan C. South, Robert F. Krueger, Edith Chen, Daniel K. Mroczek, Gregory E. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations

Abstract

Importance: Wealthy adults tend to live longer than those with less wealth. However, a challenge in this area of research has been the reduction of potential confounding by factors associated with the early environment and heritable traits, which could simultaneously affect socioeconomic circumstances in adulthood and health across the life course. Objective: To identify the association between net worth at midlife and subsequent all-cause mortality in individuals as well as within siblings and twin pairs. Design, Setting, and Participants: This cohort study conducted a series of analyses using data from the Midlife in the United States (MIDUS) study, an ongoing national study of health and aging. The sample included adults (unrelated individuals, full siblings, and dizygotic and monozygotic twins) aged 20 to 75 years, who participated in wave 1 of the MIDUS study, which occurred from 1994 to 1996. The analyses were conducted between November 16, 2019, and May 18, 2021. Exposures: Self-reported net worth (total financial assets minus liabilities) at midlife (the middle years of life). Main Outcomes and Measures: All-cause mortality was tracked over nearly 24 years of follow-up, with a censor date of October 31, 2018. Survival models tested the association between net worth and all-cause mortality. Discordant sibling and twin analyses compared longevity within siblings and twin pairs who, given their shared early experiences and genetic backgrounds, were matched on these factors. Results: The full sample comprised 5414 participants, who had a mean (SD) age of 46.7 (12.7) years and included 2766 women (51.1%). Higher net worth was associated with lower mortality risk (hazard ratio [HR], 0.95; 95% CI, 0.94-0.97; P <.001). Among siblings and twin pairs specifically (n = 2490), a similar within-family association was observed between higher net worth and lower mortality (HR, 0.94; 95% CI, 0.91-0.97; P =.001), suggesting that the sibling or twin with more wealth tended to live longer than their co-sibling or co-twin with less wealth. When separate estimates were performed for the subsamples of siblings (HR, 0.94; 95% CI, 0.90-0.97; P =.002), dizygotic twins (HR, 0.94; 95% CI, 0.86-1.02; P =.19), and monozygotic twins (HR, 0.95; 95% CI, 0.87-1.04; P =.34), the within-family estimates of the net worth-mortality association were similar, although the precision of estimates was reduced among twins. Conclusions and Relevance: This cohort study found that wealth accumulation at midlife was associated with longevity in US adults. Discordant sibling analyses suggested that this association is unlikely to be simply an artifact of early experiences or heritable characteristics shared by families.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E211652
JournalJAMA Health Forum
Volume2
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - 2021

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