Lifelines. The irony: I’ve spent so long staring unhealthily at the Office for National Statistics’ life expectancy numbers, this week, that I’ve probably shaved a few years off my own life. The result is the graph above. It takes the highest life expectancy of any local area in England and Wales, the lowest life expectancy of any local area in England and Wales, and tracks the difference between them. There are separate lines for men and women.
The latest figures… Let’s clarify that by looking at just the latest numbers. Between the years 2012 and 2014, a newborn male baby had the highest life expectancy, of 83.3 years, in Kensington and Chelsea. The lowest life expectancy, of 74.7 years, was in the unitary authority of Blackpool. Hence why the number on the graph, recording the difference between the two, is 8.6 years. For female babies, the high of 86.7 years occurred in Camden, the low of 79.8 years was in Middlesbrough, making a difference of 6.9 years.
…and where they’ve come from. These differences have remained fairly consistent over time: they’ve hovered around the 8.5-year mark for male babies, and 7 years for female babies. But, if anything, they’re on an upwards trend. This is because the best-performing local areas have added on more years to their life expectancy statistics than the worst-performing. For female babies, for example, the highest life expectancy (86.7 years, Camden) has grown by 4.2 years since 1991-93 (82.5 years, East Dorset). The lowest (79.8 years, Middlesbrough) has grown by just 3.5 years (76.3, Burnley).
Money, money, money. You’ve probably already noticed the pattern, and you’d notice it even more clearly if you saw the full spreadsheet that I’ve constructed. The areas with the highest life expectancies are generally well-to-do ones in the South: Kensington and Chelsea, St Albans, East Dorset, etc. The areas with the lowest life expectancies are concentrated in the less wealthy North: Blackpool, Manchester, Middlesbrough, etc. This, much like my last To The Point post, comes down to money.
A preview. Which brings us to another life expectancy graph: the Marmot curve. Or, rather, it doesn’t yet – that will be the subject of a future post. In the meantime, it’s worth noting that the differences I’ve highlighted here are between quite large areas in just England and Wales. They could have been much worse if we’d looked at, say, particular council estates in Glasgow. Poverty is a killer.