In 2018, there were approximately 42 million adults (0.8% of the global population) who owned more than US$1 million of net worth, and whose combined net worth was about US$142 trillion, equating to 44.8% of global wealth.
Of countries with the highest average wealth per adult, the US is ranked third with an average wealth of US$403,974 per adult in 2018. The US has the highest amount of Ultra High Net Worth Individuals (UHNWI), numbering about 70,540 people with net assets above US$50 million, representing 49.1% of the total UHNWI population. China is now in second place with 16,511 UNNWIs.1
Mortality may be indirectly influenced by occupation, in part rationalised by education and income and may vary according to lifetime wealth. The HNWI is keen to increase their longevity but many of the wealthy are not prepared for unexpected changes in health. It would appear there is a large gap between what is desired in old age and what has been planned for. This leaves scope for life insurance products to potentially fill this gap.2
Lifestyle and social engagement
As societies have become wealthier, diets have become calorie-laden and salt rich. The European Society for Cardiology reported that obesity in the eastern providence of Shandong, China had risen from just under 1% in both sexes in 1985 to 17% in boys and 9% in girls by 2014. Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are now responsible for 60% of deaths and this figure is expected to rise to 71% by 2030. Cancers are occurring more frequently, the incidence of cardiovascular disease is expected to rise by 40% and diabetes is expected to rise by 60%, in part as a result of lifestyle choice.3
A low risk health profile (healthy, rich social network, one or more activity) can increase life expectancy by five years for female lives and six years for male lives. The Leisure World Cohort Study showed that any amount of activity at all resulted in lower mortality compared to those who spent no time doing an activity.The Italian Silver Network Home Care Project separately reported active participants were half as likely to die early compared to those with no or low levels of activity.4 Providing incentives to maintain physical activity could encourage insured lives to continue such activity into later life.
Education, income, wealth, and life expectancy
Wealth differs from income in that it is the cumulative amount of resources amassed over a lifetime, whereas income refers to the flow of money into a household. The association between income and life expectancy was examined in a US study in those aged 40 to 76 years over a 15-year time period to 2014. There were four primary findings:5
- Higher income was associated with greater longevity in all income distributions.
- Inequalities in life expectancy increased over the time period.
- Life expectancy for low-income earners varied significantly within local areas.
- Geographic differences in life expectancy for those in the lowest income quartile were significantly correlated with health behaviours such as smoking, but not with medical care, physical environmental factors, income inequalities or employment conditions.