Want another reason to succeed in real estate investing quest to grow wealthy? Here’s one: wealthier people live longer.

The phenomenon, known among scientists as the wealth gradient in mortality, is widely documented and accepted. What’s less understood is why wealthier people live longer, although it seems clear that a whole host of reasons contribute, many of which revolve around a generally healthier lifestyle.

In the longest-running longevity study to date, education was found to be a major factor in longevity. The study followed both Harvard students and inner-city Boston men, and found that on average, the Harvard men lived ten years longer. But a look at all men who attended a four year college and no further education showed this gap disappeared.

College graduates and wealthier Americans tend to smoke less, drink less, use less drugs and have lower obesity rates, all of which lead to longer lives. No revelation there, but a popular hypothesis is that people who pursue higher education tend to be more forward-thinking, considering their future health. Surveys of low-income, non-college-educated Americans support this hypothesis, showing that they are simply less concerned with their future health than their wealthier, more educated counterparts.

But here’s where a wrench enters the gears – what if unhealthy people are simply less likely to achieve wealth? Between expensive medical bills and the reduced ability to work, people with health conditions are at a disadvantage in the wealth generation game. A person with chronic fatigue syndrome, for example, is less likely to have the energy to go spend their free time buying residential lease properties to generate additional cash flow and create wealth for themselves.

Here’s another interesting complication: the Social Security Administration did a study on the life expectancy of 65-year-old men, and found that the life expectancy of the wealthier half increased by five years from 1970 to 2000 (to a total of 21.5 more years), while the poorer half’s life expectancy increased by only one year in that range, to a total of 16.5 more years). This cannot be explained by behavioral factors alone (which has not disproportionately changed among older Americans), but rather implies that access to health care is increasing as a factor in longevity.

There is a sharp correlation between quality (and existence) of health insurance and likelihood to access preventative health care services, and the speed with which a person seeks evaluation and treatment for suspected health problems, leading to better chances of successful treatment. Imagine a wealthy real estate investor with good health insurance, compared to one of the tenants on a low-end residential lease property, who has no insurance. Which one is more likely to go see a doctor when the symptoms of meningitis start appearing?

Disturbingly, however, younger Americans DO see a disproportionate change in obesity, among the poor. This will compound the already growing disparity in longevity between richer and poorer Americans, and has a variety of implications, ranging from political to the economics of insurance.

If you really want to extend your life, here’s what you can do: first of all, make healthier consumption choices, such as minimizing drinking, cut out smoking and other drugs entirely, and eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and lean protein. Second, cultivate strong, nurturing relationships, such as with your spouse, family, and closest friends, as this has shown to be a consistent predictor of longer life. Third, invest in a comprehensive health insurance plan. Finally, make more money – health care has grown exponentially more expensive since 1980, and is showing no signs of slowing, which means the best health care is extremely expensive and will increasingly be available disproportionately to those who can afford it. Invest in some residential lease properties, diversify your 401(k), work with a trustworthy financial advisor, and otherwise do what you can to boost your wealth while you’re healthy, because it’s a lot harder to make hay when the sun’s not shining.

Author's Bio: 

Brian is a residential real estate investor based out of Baltimore, MD, and contributes content to EZ Landlord Forms, an online provider of residential lease forms, free rental application forms, and hundreds of other resources for real estate investors and property managers.