Health inequality slumps to Great Depression levels

Poverty through the ages: Life expectancy might drop
Poverty through the ages: Life expectancy might drop

By staff

The inequality in life expectancy in the UK is as bad as it was in the Great Depression, new research has found.

A team of researchers used data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) and the General Register Office for Scotland to map out life expectancy according to income.

The report, published in the British Medical Journal, found that there were 212 deaths before the age of 65 in the poorest 10th of areas for every 100 deaths at that age in the 10th richest areas between 1999 and 2007.

From 1921 to 1930 there were 191 deaths in the poorest areas and 185 deaths from 1931 to 1939.

"Health and wealth are directly linked and, unless we tackle the income gap, we could well see life expectancy actually starting to fall for the first time in the poorest areas," said lead researcher Professor Danny Dorling.

The 1920's saw Britain desperately try to recover from the ravages of the First World War and then get hit by the Great Depression.

Health inequality then started narrowing due to the rise of manufacturing and industry in traditionally poorer parts of Britain.

But the 1970s that process has slowed, due presumably to the decline of British manufacturing, with the gap widening in the last 20 years.


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