New ONS figures reveal the startling state of health inequality

Men living in the most deprived areas of the country will live almost 20 years less than those in the least deprived areas.

Men living in the most deprived areas of the country enjoy 20 fewer years of healthy life than those in the least deprived areas, according to new figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Men living in the poorest parts of the UK will have 52 healthy years of life, while those in the least deprived areas will have 70.5 healthy years. Total life expectancy for men in the poorest parts of the UK is also 74, compared to 83 in the wealthiest parts.

The research out today shows the gap between overall life expectancy and the proportion of life spent in good health by men and women in the most and least deprives areas of the UK.

While men living in the most deprived areas spend 30 per sent of their lives in bad health, the figure is half for the top decile, with 85 per cent of life spent in good health.

The figures for women are equally shocking, with the bottom decile life expectancy at 79, compared to 86 for the highest earners – a seven year gap. Meanwhile those in the most impoverished areas have just over 52 years of healthy life compared to 71.5 for women in the most affluent 10 per cent – there is a similar gap for the male figures. Again, women at the ‘bottom’ spend 66.1 per cent of their life in good health, but for the women in the wealthiest parts it’s over 83 per cent.

Richard Exell over at the TUC’s Touchstone blog, has some detailed analysis of the results:

“How deprived the area you live in is makes much more difference to healthy life expectancy than to life expectancy. Not only is there a gradient in how long people live, but also in the proportion of their lives spent in good health” – as his graph shows:

Life expectancyj

Exell argues that ill health is both a class and gender issue, although the gap between men and women is smaller than that for the richest and poorest residents overall.

Averaging the figures, men and women come out with have a life expetancy of just over 76 years in the poorest areas, but over 84 years in the richest parts. The most deprived have 52 years of good health (68 per cent of their lives) while the richest have over 68 years (84 per cent of their lives).

Those in the wealthiest areas (generally a fair mark of overall wealth) therefore live 16 years longer than the poorest, and will spend 16 per cent more of it without health problems.

These figures clearly point to the need to reverse inequality, as noted yesterday on Left Foot Forward – sadly, the statistics seem to be getting worse.

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