Healthy life expectancy falls for those in less affluent areas in the UK

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Adapted from BMJ 30 April 2022

The National Office for Statistics from 2018 to 2020 show that men born in the poorest areas of the UK are expected to live ten years less than men from the most affluent areas. Poor men can expect to live a healthy life till the age of 52 and die around the age of 73. Wealthy men may expect to live in good health till they are 67 and die around the age of 83.

Women in the poorest areas can expect 19 fewer years in health compared to wealthier women. They can expect to be healthy in poor areas till they are 52 and this is 71 for wealthy women. Women in poor areas can expect to die around the age of 70 and wealthy women around the age of 86.

There has been a bit of a decrease in life expectancy generally in the last few years, pre-covid. David Finch of the Health Foundation says that improvement in incomes is needed to cope with the rising cost of living, secure jobs and decent housing.

My comment: What goes on at the doctor’s surgery and hospitals is just the tip of the iceberg regarding health. Housing, employment, a good diet, access to green spaces, social interaction, education, good transport, reduced pollution, clean water, freedom from violence, and good health behaviours such as diet and exercise habits, known collectively as the social determinants of health are much more important. Policies that will improve these factors are necessary to improve the situation. I would argue that living a healthy life is more important than an extra few years in a nursing home.

2 thoughts on “Healthy life expectancy falls for those in less affluent areas in the UK”

  1. I question if the US stats are a trend or a one off because of COVID. We cannot make public policy on one offs but how long for a trend? We will likely only know looking backwards.

    Regardless low income people also suffer disproportionately in the US. Many believe it is health care, I happen to think it is environment. Where do steel mills, toxic waste dumps, and lead based paint hang out? Hint, it is not affluent neighborhoods.


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