The Relationship Between Wealth and Frailty

Prof Kenneth Rockwood is Director of Geriatric Medicine Research at Dalhousie University, Canada and serves on the International Advisory Panel of Age and Ageing journal.


It’s never good to be frail, but it’s worse to be frail and poor, or to be frail in a tough environment. That would be one conclusion from a recent analysis of data from middle-aged and older adults in the Study of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE). This analysis (by our group) showed that the number of health problems people have (the mean deficit count in a frailty index) was strongly and negatively correlated with national wealth (measured by Gross Domestic Product – GDP). In fact, for the 15 countries evaluated, per capita GDP “explained” about 60% of the variance in the national level of frailty. Continue reading