WASHINGTON – A new report from AARP found that the annual economic cost to the U.S. GDP caused by disparities in life expectancy is expected to reach $1.6 trillion in 2030. That totals 5.1% of the projected GDP, which would be equivalent to the combined size of Massachusetts’ and Virginia’s economies in 2030.
Our Collective Future: The Economic Impact of Unequal Life Expectancy concluded that the cost of disparities in life expectancy affects everyone. However, regions and sectors with high concentrations of older people, poor and rural areas and communities of color are disproportionately impacted. COVID-19 has only deepened longstanding structural inequities. From 2019 to 2020, overall life expectancy fell by 1.5 years – to 77.3 years, according to the CDC, with disproportionate drops among Blacks (2.9 years – to 71.8 years) and Hispanics (3 years – to 78.8 years). Disparities stifle economic growth, with disparities in life expectancy estimated to reduce consumer spending by $1.1 trillion in 2030 alone.
Key findings in the report include:
- The U.S. could have 5.9 million more people in 2030, with 92% of these among the 50-plus cohort, if everyone had the same opportunities to live longer, healthier and more productive lives.
- Inequities in life expectancy could cost the U.S. around 10.1 million jobs and $934 billion in wages and salaries in 2030.
- The job and wage losses are expected to be disproportionate in the construction, services (education, health, finance, etc.) and health sectors. The construction industry could face cost increases of 12% by 2030. These losses also disproportionately impact 50-plus workers, who account for 77% of labor force participants that would be able to remain active in the workforce longer.
- The costs of disparities in life expectancy translate to an average drop in life expectancy at age 50 of 3 years for men and 3.2 years for women, with Black men and Black women falling behind by 4.6 and 3.9 years, respectively.
“Eliminating disparities is an economic, national and ethical imperative. Measures must be taken to empower people and make systems equitable, opportunities attainable, and resources accessible,” said Jean Accius, Senior Vice President of Global Thought Leadership at AARP. “Steps to counter these consequences include, but aren’t limited to, increasing access to affordable health care, housing, jobs programs, social connection and food security.”
The authors of Our Collective Future underscore that achieving equity in longevity will require a concerted multisectoral approach to build the infrastructure that supports people of all ages, with the opportunity not just to live longer but also healthier and more productive lives across all of life’s stages.
AARP is supporting a range of efforts to address inequities so everyone can age with dignity. For example, AARP Illinois is advocating for legislation to expand retirement savings programs, property tax relief, health insurance coverage, broadband access and digital literacy programs for communities of color throughout the state. AARP New York is working to ensure adequate funding for home and community-based services and to increase enrollment in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program that will allow recipients to shop for food online and have it delivered to their homes. In addition, AARP New York is creating a housing access voucher program for New Yorkers who are homeless or face an imminent loss of housing.
View the full Our Collective Future: The Economic Impact of Unequal Life Expectancy report.
The analysis conducted in this report measures the total cost of racial/ethnic disparities in life expectancy by estimating the size of the gap between the baseline scenario: a period of time (2022-2030) with no change to projected disparities, and a counterfactual scenario (constructed using the REMI PI+ model): this same period with equal life expectancy outcomes between all racial/ethnic groups. For more information, see Appendix 1 in the report.
AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering people 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With a nationwide presence and nearly 38 million members, AARP strengthens communities and advocates for what matters most to families: health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. AARP also produces the nation’s largest circulation publications: AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. To learn more, visit www.aarp.org, www.aarp.org/espanol or follow @AARP, @AARPenEspanol and @AARPadvocates, @AliadosAdelante on soc