Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Britain is a country where more and more poor old men live relatively shorter and shorter lives than rich old men

New research from Cass Business School and the International Longevity Centre-UK has found growing inequalities in the life expectancy of old men in twenty-first century Britain. Based on data from the 'Human Mortality Database', Professor of Statistics, Les Mayhew and Dr David Smith measured the differences in age between the earliest 10% of adult deaths and the top 5% of survivors and found that while people in Britain are living longer than ever, the gap between the longest and shortest lifespans appears to be increasing. In particular, the life expectancy of those in the lowest and the highest socio-economic groups is diverging for the first time since the 1870s.

Historically, "Everyone benefited from improvements in clean drinking water, better housing, higher incomes and better health," said the Professor. After 1950 there were further rises in life expectancy although inequalities in lifespan persisted rather than narrowing further. However, in the 1990s lifespan inequalities actually worsened, particularly for men, for the first time since the late 1870s.

The Researchers found that for men who died in 2010 aged over 30 :

  • the oldest 5% reached an average age of almost 96
  • but the youngest 10% died at an average age of just over 62 - more than 33 years younger
  • by 2009 this longevity gap was 1.7 years greater than it had been at its narrowest in 1993

  • An explanation of these figures, according to the Report, can be found in the fact that old men in lower socio-economic groups are the most likely to make damaging lifestyle choices. 'They put themselves in harm's way on average more than women do - they smoke more, drink more and there are periods in their lives when they partake in riskier activities.' The fact is that poor old men are more likely to suffer the cumulative effects of decades of poor lifestyle choices and income inequality - while wealthier, more educated old men may find it easier to adopt healthier habits. The authors say the negative health outcomes of smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, poor diet and lack of exercise 'are disproportionately associated with the poorest in society.'
    Baroness Sally Greengross, Chief Executive of the 'International Longevity Centre' said the figures were "particularly worrying" and "Preventing inequalities in ill health and disability must be a priority for policy action." "This very timely report highlights how, despite huge increases in life expectancy, the gap between rich and poor is increasing for the first time since the 1870s. This trend is particularly worrying for society and policymakers must do more to begin to narrow this gap again. Preventing inequalities in ill health and disability must be a priority for policy action”.
    It goes without saying, that her plea will fall on deaf ears. The present Conservative Government has no intention whatsoever of addressing the issue of poor old men in Britain living shorter lives in relation to rich old men. In fact, the previous 'Labour' Government in 2003 set a target that by 2010 life expectancies in the best and worst areas of the country would not differ by more than 10% and not only was the target missed, but in fact, the opposite has happened.
    Britain in 2016 : a country where little changes for the better for most of the people and life gets relatively shorter for poor old men.

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