Life Expectancy Gap between North and South Increases

New figures released today by the Office for National Statistics show that the gap between the local areas with the highest and lowest life expectancies in the United Kingdom increased between 2004–06 and 2008–10.

A north-south divide is particularly evident in the figures with people in the south of England experiencing higher life expectancies than those in Scotland and the north of England. Life expectancy was highest in Kensington and Chelsea and lowest in Glasgow City in each period.

London had the greatest overall improvement in life expectancy between 2004–06 and 2008–10, although the apparent advantage of areas in this region is likely to be due to a number of factors, including:

  • the relative affluence of many parts of London,
  • the movement into London of healthy employed individuals with a low risk of death, and
  • the statistical effects of migration and high population mobility.

Over the 2004–06 to 2008–10 period, the gap in life expectancy at birth between local areas increased from 12.5 to 13.5 years (1.0 year) for males and from 10.1 to 11.8 years (1.7 years) for females. At age 65 the gap increased from 8.2 to 10.1 years (1.9 years) for men and from 7.5 to 9.7 years (2.2 years) for women.

Although the gaps increased, life expectancy continued to improve in most places. On average life expectancy at birth in local areas improved by 1.2 years for males and 1.0 year for females. At age 65 the average increase was 1.0 year for men and 0.9 years for women

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