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Life Expectancy Gap Between Rich and Poor Widens

May 4, 2016
Public Health

The life expectancy gap between rich and poor people in England and Wales has increased for the first time in almost 150 years according to a new study. The research carried out at City university CASS business school was based on the Human Mortality Database and found that ‘men in lower socio-economic groups are most likely to make damaging lifestyle choices’, leading to lower life expectancy.

Professor Les Mayhew, who co-authored the report said; “Since the 1990s lifespan inequalities in men have actually worsened in England and Wales. This is partly due to some men now living to exceptionally old ages and in many cases equaling women, but at the other end of the distribution there has been a lack of progress. The research blames the widening disparity on poor lifestyle choices rather than ambient risks which were prevalent in the first half of the 20th century. Key among these lifestyle choices are smoking, drinking and poor diet – choices that are more likely to be made by the poorest in society.”

From 1870 to 1939, the trend was for the gap to close in line with major improvements in housing, drinking water quality and increases in wages. In the 1990’s however lifespan inequalities began to increase for the first time. Figures showed that the top 5% of men lived to 95.7 years on average compared to just 62.4 years for the lowest 10% producing a gap of 33.3 years. For women the gap was slightly narrower at 30.9 years.

You can read the full report HERE