Do the rich live longer?

Does being rich guarantee a longer life?

According to 30 years of BRW Rich 200 research the answer is no, or more precisely, not any more.

Go back a few centuries and clearly the rich lived longer than the poor.

Even back in 1984, when the first BRW Rich list came out apparently the rich had a longer life expectancy than the rest of the population.

However, according to BRW Magazine today the average Australian will live longer than the average Rich Lister.

They say:

rich poor wealth income gapAccording to BRW’s database of nearly 1000 people (most of whom are men), the life expectancy of the ultra wealthy has remained constant at 78 years for at least three decades.

For the rest of us, it has risen significantly.

Thirty years ago, the “average” man was tipped to live to 71. Women fared better and had a similar life expectancy to rich men- 78.

These days, the average man has overtaken the average Rich List and increased his life expectancy to almost 80, while women have done even better (84).

On a conceptual level, the data makes sense.

Over many decades healthcare standards have risen and people have a better standard of living than they once did. They also tend to retire earlier than the average Rich Lister.

Is being rich really so stressful?

According to BRW…

Managing personal fortunes can be immensely stressful and many Rich Listers have died in the pursuit of more money.

The life expectancy of non-rich and rich men converged in the mid-2000s and since then the average man has continued to outperform.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics find increased life expectancy is due to “lower infant mortality, the promotion of healthier lifestyles, continued improvements in living standards, and ongoing medical advances leading to improvement in prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases”.

Australian National University’s Siew-Ean Khoo from the Australian Demographic and Social Research Institute says a reduction in disease has been especially important, in particular a ‘”decline in cardiovascular disease”.

Dharma Arunachalam of Monash University’s Centre for Population and Urban Research says “access to information” has been key to the rise in the life expectancy of most people.

Apparently Rich Listers are now concentrating more on their health and…

Since 1984, when the Rich 200 was first published, there have been 977 members, of which 59 departed the list by dying.

Whether a Rich Lister was born in Australia or overseas does not affect their life expectancy, based on the data.

The rich are getting Richer

It’s probably no surprise to you that BRW suggests:

The rich may not be living longer but they are getting richer more quickly than everyone else.

The cut-off to make the Rich 200 was $10 million in 1984. If it had grown at the rate of inflation, the cut-off would be $29 million today.

In reality, the cut-off has risen to $235 million, representing a growth rate more than twice that of the increase in total household wealth from $574 billion to $6048 billion.


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Michael is a director of Metropole Property Strategists who help their clients grow, protect and pass on their wealth through independent, unbiased property advice and advocacy. He's once again been voted Australia's leading property investment adviser and one of Australia's 50 most influential Thought Leaders. His opinions are regularly featured in the media. Visit

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