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Rich People in Los Angeles Die Pretty Young For Rich People

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While LA is fifth for life expectancy among the poor, it's 92nd for life expectancy among the rich

Los Angeles is often associated with youth and an obsession with youthfulness, but it's the old people who are the focus of a new study (via Curbed SF) done by researchers working at an array of prestigious institutions like Harvard, Stanford, and MIT, and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The study analyzed tax records and mortality records from the Social Security Administration to take a closer look at the relationship between how much Americans make and how long they live.

While they found that, unsurprisingly, having a higher income is associated with living longer, they also found that longevity among the poor varied a lot based on where they live. In Los Angeles, for example, the poorest residents (those in the bottom quartile in terms of income) can expect to live an average of 81.1 years—that's a bit longer than the national average for the same economic group, which is about 79.4 years. Poor women live to 83.2 years, while poor men make it to 79 on average, beating the national average of 82.1 and 76.7, respectively.

LA's longevity numbers among the poor ranked high—the fifth highest in the nation—but the region's rich people, well, they're not doing so hot. In fact, LA's wealthiest folks (those in the top quartile in terms of income) are way down the mortality list in 92nd place, with an average lifespan for men and women of about 85.8 years. Oldsters in Portland, Maine, and Salt Lake City, Utah are living until they are an average of 87.8 years old.

LA's most well-to-do are "only" living about 4.7 years longer than the very poorest Angelenos. That's similar to New York (with a 4.8-year average difference between richest and poorest) or San Jose (4.7-year difference), but in places like San Antonio, Texas, there's a nearly eight-year difference between the richest and poorest. Regardless of the size of the span, rich Angelenos are still living a while longer than poor ones, though, as the wealthy do across the country.

To come to these conclusions, the study looked at people over 40 in 100 "commuting zones" instead of, say, metro areas or counties. Commuting zones are "geographic aggregations of counties" based on commuting patterns recorded in the 1990 census. What that means here is that some of these people, rich and poor, might not live in Los Angeles proper.