Must-Read: There is an argument that inequality does not matter much anymore. The argument goes like this: Income and wealth inequality used to matter a lot because the poor (and even the middle class) were always hungry and sometimes starved. But with the coming of modern nutrition, public health, and literacy standards, inequality no longer matters much–it becomes a set of social status games, rather than something that brutally affects your life-chances and your life.

But now we have the extraordinary rise in this Second Gilded Age of ours in diverging life expectancy by income class. We badly, desperately need to get a handle on where this is coming from and what this means. I do not think that we have a proper handle on it yet:

Louise Sheiner: Implications of the Growing Gap in Life Expectancy by Income: “The numbers… are alarming:

…If recent trends continue, the difference in life expectancy at age 50 between men in the top 20% and bottom 20% of the earnings distribution is expected to increase from 5 years for men born in 1930, to about 13 years for men born in 1960.
Virtually all of the gains in life expectancy between the 1930 and 1960 cohorts are enjoyed by the top 60% of the income distribution. For women, life expectancy might actually be falling at the bottom of the earnings distribution…. Life expectancy for men and women born in 1930 and 1960 by five groups of lifetime earnings from poorest (quintile 1) to riches (quintile 5)…. Examining the likelihoods of reaching age 85. For men in the bottom of the earnings distribution, the probability of reaching age 85 has barely budged…. But for those in the top 20 percent of the earnings distribution, the probability of reaching 85 was 45 percent for those turning 50 in 1980, and 66 percent for those turning 50 in 2010:

Implications of the growing gap in life expectancy by income Brookings Institution Implications of the growing gap in life expectancy by income Brookings Institution