Gap in life expectancy between richest and poorest widens, figures show

The gap in life expectancy between those living in the richest and poorest parts of England has widened, new figures reveal.

There was a drop of 98 days in life expectancy at birth among women in the most deprived areas between 2012 to 2014 and 2015 to 2017, data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows.

Meanwhile, women in the least deprived areas gained almost 84 days across this period.

This represents a growth in inequality in life expectancy of around half a year for women, while for men the gap in life expectancy increased by around 0.3 years.

A similar pattern was seen in Wales, but significant changes were not detected.

Ben Humberstone, ONS deputy director for health analysis and life events, said: “We’ve found a large fall in life expectancy at birth among women living in the most deprived areas in England when comparing the periods 2012 to 2014 and 2015 to 2017.

“This is in contrast to the continued increases in life expectancy for women living in the least deprived areas.

“This has led to a significant widening in the inequality in life expectancy at birth in England.”

In England, life expectancy at birth between 2015 to 2017 for women living in the most deprived areas was 78.7 years, compared to 86.2 years for those in the least deprived areas, the ONS data shows.

Among men, life expectancy for those in the most deprived parts of England was 74 years, compared to 83.3 years in the least deprived areas – a gap of nearly 10 years.

The difference in healthy life expectancy – the number of years spent in “good” health – was 19.1 years for men and 18.8 years for women in 2015 to 2017.

Women in the poorest areas could expect to live 52 years in good health, compared to 70.4 years for those in the richest areas.

For men it was 51.7 years for those living in parts of England with the greatest deprivation, compared to 70.4 years for those in the least deprived areas.

Mr Humberstone said: “Our wider analysis of mortality shows that life expectancy in the UK has stopped improving at the rate that was expected before 2011.

“We will be carrying out further work to analyse the factors contributing to this trend, including the impact of deprivation.”

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