I had the same thoughts, especially when making early decisions about career paths. I just recently read that same stat. Reader’s Digest suggested the gap between white & blue collar life expectancy was as much as 7 years !
I cannot comment on the precision of this statistic with any expertise, but can proffer my perspective. I have spent most of my life in construction work, aside from a ten year stint of going back to university and a brief foray into the white collar world.
I discovered it was not really for me, as I appear to have a need for outdoor work and a dislike of bureaucracy. Also, I have a need for creativity that I find cannot be satisfied by shuffling papers. And, no, I cannot say that construction has fulfilled that last desire. But at least it felt more action-oriented.
Physical labour as many here have pointed out, takes its toll over the long term, so a goal of balance, if achievable, should be sought. Hard to do. I hurt my back several times in my career and spent thousands addresing that. Arthritis is a worry, but has not impacted me in a debilitating way yet.
(I once told my Dad this is why they call it the “Trades” - you trade your body for money)
I have been fortunate enough over the last 15 years to only work seasonally at a high-paying job, leaving time for my more creative and less destructive pursuits. I made it a point to work as little per year as I wanted to, and my choice of work and real estate happened to coincide to make that doable.
Many associates in my field would be entranced by the dollar figure and some to their physical and psychological detriment. The work was hard, very cold, very long hours, isolated from civilization and I didn’t want to end up like many others and work myself to a retirement freedom that may never happen.
Several friends died in my field died young, in terms of retirement. My boss at 63. My friends wife at 61.
Our way of life can be destructive, especially if we believe everything we are told about what to buy, where to live, how long to work, etc.