This site is intended for health professionals only

Women born in poorest areas spend an extra two decades in bad health

Women born in poorest areas spend an extra two decades in bad health
By Jess Hacker
25 April 2022

Women born in the poorest areas of England are expected to live nearly two fewer decades in good health compared to those in the most well-off areas, according to the ONS.

According to the latest available data (25 April), healthy life expectancy at birth among women in the most deprived areas was 19.3 years fewer than those in the wealthiest in 2018 to 2020.

And for men born in the poorest areas, the figure stands at 18.6 years fewer years spent in good health than those men born in the least deprived.

The new data revealed a similarly stark disparity in life expectancy, with men living in the wealthiest areas expected to live nearly a decade longer (9.7 years) than men in the poorest. For women the same statistic  was 7.9 years difference in life expectancy .

It also highlighted:

  • Disability-free life expectancy as 17.6 years shorter for men in the most deprived areas, and 16.8 for women when compared to wealthier areas
  • Women in the most deprived areas were expected to live only around two-thirds (66.3%) of their life in good health, compared to 82% in the wealthiest.

However, there were ‘significant decreases’ in female disability-free life expectancy at birth in both deprived and less deprived areas between 2015 to 2017 and 2018 to 2020.

David Finch, assistant director of healthy lives at the Health Foundation, flagged that the greater falls in life expectancy in poorer areas reveals the ‘uneven impact’ of the pandemic.

He said: ‘Girls born in the poorest areas of England live 19 fewer years in good health than those born in the wealthiest. A staggering difference in life chances.

‘The recent levelling up white paper reiterated the Government ambition to improve healthy life expectancy by five years by 2035, while narrowing the gap between the experience of the richest and poorest.’

However, Mr Finch noted that recent analysis conducted by the Health Foundation estimates that this would take 192 years to achieve for men.

He added that reducing the inequalities required a shift toward a ‘whole-government approach’, with the forthcoming disparities white paper representing ‘a clear opportunity’ to act.

A recent study indicated that Covid’s impact in poorer areas was ‘more pronounced’ than expected, with nearly twice as many ‘years of life’ lost to Covid than the most affluent areas.

And a study published in the BJGP suggested the poorest areas in England had almost one and a half fewer full time equivalent GPs (1.41) per 10,000 patients than the wealthiest areas.

Want news like this straight to your inbox?

Related articles