Life Expectancy Gap Between Rich And Poor Widening
Researchers at Imperial College London’s School of Public Health has just released a study that shows the gap in life expectancy between rich and poor in England continues to widen. The poor are dying nearly ten years younger than the rich. The study was published in Lancet Public Health.
For the study, the researchers analyzed Office for National Statistics data on 7.65 million deaths recorded in England between 2001 and 2016. They took a close look at where each death occurred and disparities by community. After correlating all of the data, they found that life expectancy at birth in 2016 was consistently lower in more deprived communities.
The life expectancy gap between the most affluent and most deprived boys and men in the UK climbed from a difference of nine years in 2001 to 9.7 years in 2016. The life expectancy gap between the most affluent and most deprived girls and women in the UK rose from a difference of 6.1 years to 7.9 years. Under five-year-olds in the poorest homes were 2.5 times more likely to die than children in the richest homes.
Majid Ezzati, a professor of global environmental health at the Imperial College London, was senior author of the study. He said, “’Our aim was to investigate how much deaths from different diseases and injuries and at different ages have contributed to this rise to inform policies that aim to reduce health inequalities.”
More research is needed to determine the exact contribution of factors driving such inequalities. The researchers believe that stagnant wages, poor diets, and health inequalities are the main factors to blame. The price of healthy foods, like fresh fruit and vegetables, are more expensive than unhealthy, processed food, putting them out of the reach of poor households. Poor people are also less likely to survive certain types of diseases, like cancer and diabetes.
The troubling gap in life expectancy among the rich and poor has also has been seen in the United States. A similar study led by Ezzati a decade ago found a consistent increase in life expectancy inequalities across US counties between 1983 and 1999. Martin McKee, a professor of European public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine who was not involved in the study, said, “The finding that life expectancy is actually declining for some groups should be taken extremely seriously as, historically, this has always been an indicator of deep seated problems in society.”