Being Poor Literally Makes You Age Faster

Which makes you need medical care, which makes you even poorer...hmm!
Hannah Smothers
Brooklyn, US
Woman sitting on doctor's table
Getty Images/Uppercut RF

Researchers at the University of Copenhagen found a significant tie between living through periods of poverty and aging prematurely. Applying these findings to how the United States works as a whole makes a lot of sense: I don’t know much about “business” or “making money,” but creating a health system that straps people with insurmountable debt, speeds up their aging in doing so, and then brings them back in for more healthcare they can’t afford? Seems like a hell of a money-making scheme, to me.


The study, which defined “relative poverty” as an annual income at least 60 percent below the median, measured the physical and cognitive strength of 5,500 adults. Physical challenges included things like grip strength, standing and sitting in a chair repeatedly for 30 seconds, and jumping as high as possible; cognitive challenges included memorizing a sequence of items. On average, people who’d never experienced any sort of economic hardship performed better in every category. Researchers ultimately suggest that living in relative poverty for four or more years is significantly associated with “poorer physical capability [and] cognitive function.”

“Early aging also means more treatment at an earlier age,” study co-author Rikke Lund said in a news brief about the study, adding that most don’t realize they’ve aged prematurely until they’re already old, and it’s too late to do anything preventative. Of course prevention would also likely require some sort of healthcare, a thing that is largely inaccessible to anyone who isn’t rich and/or a full-time employee in the United States.