Mens life expectancy getting closer to that of women

Mens life expectancy getting closer to that of women

UK researchers said that by 2030, life expectancy should reach 85.7 years for men and 87·6 years for women, which closes the gap between male and female life expectancy from 6 years in 1981 to just 1.9 years by 2030. Statistics show that between 1981 and 2012, national life expectancy in England and Wales increased by 8.2 years in men (to 79.5 years) and 6 years in women (to 83.3 years).

However, at the same time, there have been rising inequalities with the gap between the top and bottom 1% of life expectancies in local authority districts of England and Wales increasing by around 0.9 of a year for men (from 5.2 to 6.1 years) and 1.1 years for women (from 4.5 to 5.6 years).

Researchers led by Professor Majid Ezzati from Imperial College London, used mortality and population data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) for 375 of the 376 local authority districts in England and Wales between 1981 and 2012. Data on the age at death and district of residence were used in advanced statistical methods, which analysed current mortality patterns, and then forecast life expectancy to 2030 for each of the districts. Their analysis found that in 2012, life expectancy was lowest in urban northern England. Blackpool had the lowest male life expectancy for men at 75.2 years and Middlesbrough and Manchester had the lowest life expectancy for women at 80.2 years.

The highest life expectancies in 2012 were in southern England and some of London’s most affluent districts. The small district of the City of London had the highest life expectancy for both men and women, at 83.4 and 87.3 years, respectively.

Senior author Professor Ezzati said: “Our national forecasts of life expectancy in 2030 are higher than official figures from the Office for National Statistics, by 2.4 years for men and 1 years for women, meaning that pensions will have larger pay-outs than planned, and health and social services will have to serve an even older population than currently planned.

“The discrepancies found between our estimates and earlier figures are likely to be because previous estimates have extrapolated from past trends in death rates, an approach that may underestimate gains in life expectancy.

“The present UK coalition government has cut public spending on a range of social determinants of health under the rhetoric of austerity. Such policies will, at best, cause the rising inequality trends to continue, and could well worsen them because their adverse effects are particularly large on children and working-age people, and on more disadvantaged social groups and communities, with signs of a rise in poverty already emerging.

“Moreover, NHS reforms, which devolve health and social care responsibilities to local governments, coupled with tight budgets and a large role for the private sector in commissioning and provision of health services, will weaken health systems and worsen inequalities in health care access and quality.”

* James E Bennett, et al. The future of life expectancy and life expectancy inequalities in England and Wales: Bayesian spatiotemporal forecasting. The Lancet, 2015. DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(15)60296-3

By Adrian O'Dowd,

OnMedica, Friday 01 May 2015

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