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Gap in life expectancy shrinks by 2.5 years, think tank reveals


12 August 2015

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The gap in life expectancy between the richest 10% and the poorest 10% of people in the UK shrank by 2.5 years between 1999 and 2010, a new report by The King’s Fund has found.

Populations in poorer areas tend to have worse health than populations in richer ones, but the think tank’s research suggests that the gap in life expectancy narrowed from 6.9 years in 1999–2003 to 4.4 years in 2006–10.

The gap in life expectancy between the richest 10% and the poorest 10% of people in the UK shrank by 2.5 years between 1999 and 2010, a new report by The King’s Fund has found.

Populations in poorer areas tend to have worse health than populations in richer ones, but the think tank’s research suggests that the gap in life expectancy narrowed from 6.9 years in 1999–2003 to 4.4 years in 2006–10.

Commenting on the findings, David Buck, senior fellow at The King's Fund, said: “It is welcome news that differences in life expectancy between rich and poor areas improved in the period up to 2010.

“This period saw significant improvements in inequalities in general with low unemployment and improved housing, which are likely to have been factors in this improvement,” he added.

Life expectancy in some areas was unexpectedly high or low, even when accounting for other factors, the report showed.

For example, average life expectancy is higher in West London and lower in urban areas of the North West than the levels of deprivation and lifestyles in those parts of the country would predict.

“We believe our findings support and reinforce the case for a true cross-government approach to reducing inequalities in health, with NHS, local authority and central government policy more aligned than they currently are,” Buck said.

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