WEALTHY people can expect to enjoy eight or nine years more good health than poorer folk, a study says.
Researchers found they are less likely to develop a disability or long-term illness until an older age.
The richest men at age 50 can expect to live a further 31 years in good health while women will enjoy an additional 33 years after they have hit half a century.
For poorer groups, the wide-ranging study said the figures are 22 to 23 extra years for men and 24 to 25 for women.
Scientists tracked 25,557 Brits and Americans aged 50 and over for a decade from 2002.
They looked at their ability to do basic daily tasks, such as washing, dressing and cooking.
The experts discovered that life expectancy was the same in both countries — and found the same link between wealth and health.
Better educated people also enjoyed more years of good health, the researchers found.
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Dr Paola Zaninotto, of University College London, said improving “quality and quantity” of life could affect spending on public health and care needs — and work participation for older ages.
She added: “Our findings have implications for policy makers interested in reducing health expectancy inequalities.”
Dr Zaninotto said that efforts to do so should focus on people who are from “disadvantaged” social groups.