Thursday, October 20, 2011

SE Londoners robbed of 8 years of life

The Office for National Statistics this week released their latest 'Geographic analysis of life expectancy statistics'. The good news is that life expectancy continues to rise - people are living longer. The bad news is that inequalities in life expectancy are growing. It's bad enough that accidents of birth can determine how wealthy people get to be, it's worse that richer people actually get to live significantly longer. This is reflected too in the differences between life expectancy in different parts of London.

A male child born in London between 1991 and 1993 had a life expectancy of between 70.6 (Tower Hamlets) and 75.9 (Harrow), a gap of 5.3 years. The gap for a boy born between 2008 and 2010 is more than nine years , from 76 (Islington) to 85.1 (Kensington and Chelsea). Greenwich and Lewisham are both near the bottom, with average life expectancy of 76.7 years. So a child born in David Cameron's part of Notting Hill can expect to have a good nine years more to enjoy their life than a child born in New Cross or Woolwich.

Girls have a higher life expectancy overall, but the pattern is similar, with Lewisham (81.3)and Greenwich girls (81.8) born in the last couple of years having a life expectancy 8 years behind their counterparts in K&C (89.8 years).

So is there something nasty in the water that's killing off the SE London locals? No it all comes down to class. According to ONS: 'The social class of an individual has been shown to have an effect on life expectancy. In a recent study by Johnson (2011), it was shown that the greatest growth in male life expectancy at birth between 1982–86 and 2002–06 was experienced by those in the lower managerial and professional class (such as school teachers and social workers) at 5.3 years. The least growth was experienced by those in the two least advantaged classes (semi-routine and routine occupations), at 3.8 and 3.9 years respectively. At age 65 the gap in life expectancy between men in higher managerial and professional occupations (18.8 years) and those in routine occupations (15.3 years) was 3.5 years in 2002–06. Similar results were found for females... area-based income deprivation largely explained geographical variations in life expectancy'.

In other words, average life expectancy is lower in areas like Lewisham and Greenwich because a higher proportion of poorer people live here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You shouldn't take these tables too literally - nobody knows exactly how long babies born in 2008 will live! The tables are built from mortality rates observed in 2008 across all ages - so they are a picture of society across all age classes in a given year.

Not that it changes the conclusion...