The BBC are prattling on about poverty and longevity at the moment (hat tip rob in the comments section under a post at Devils Kitchen). I suspect this report is a result of the BBC sending people up to The Undiscovered Country of Glasgow East during the recent by-election.
The BBC appears to be confusing correlation with causation, or even Post Hoc fallacy - "they are poor and then have a short life, so poverty causezittinnit?"
It might be that the bad choices/attitudes etc that shorten life are the same that entrench poverty. I know where I'd put my money. Poor people can live a long time, in fact in Japan, a low calorie diet caused by food shortages (especially red meat) increases longevity.
Powerlessness might shorten life, that makes sense - powerlessness builds deep levels of stress and lack of hope, lack of a future. What do you think the biological carbon unit would do if hope is taken away, or rather what would a body try and do if hope existed, even in extremely harsh circumstancs? I know what, it would want to live at any cost. Remove hope, remove the reason to live, shorten life. It is pretty logical. Biggest contributor to removal of hope and entrenching a sense of powerlessness? (drumroll) The Welfare State, Ladies and Gentlemen, in all its infantilising glory.
It is not poverty that shortens peoples' lives in my opinion, it is the unintended (?) consequences of the Welfare State.