Wealth inequalities are increasing in many countries, but their relationship to health is little studied. We investigated the association between individual wealth and mortality across the adult life course in Sweden..
..Large inequalities in mortality by wealth were observed and their association with mortality remained more stable across the adult life course than inequalities by income-based measures. Men experienced greater inequalities across all ages (e.g. the RII for wealth was 2.58 [95% confidence interval (CI) 2.54–2.63) in men aged 55–64 years compared with 2.29 (95% CI 2.24–2.34) for women aged 55–64 years), except among the over 85s. Adjustment for covariates, including four other measures of socio-economic position, led to only modest reductions in the association between wealth and mortality.
Wealth is strongly associated with mortality throughout the adult life course, including early adulthood. Income redistribution may be insufficient to narrow health inequalities—addressing the increasingly unequal distribution of wealth in high-income countries should be considered.