A boy born in a disadvantaged neighbourhood today can expect to die 8.4 years earlier than someone in a wealthy area, new figures today reveal.
A major new study has found that the life expectancy gap between rich and poor is growing.
It reveals that on average a boy born in one of the fifth richest neighborhoods can expect to live 8.4 years longer than someone born in one of the poorest areas -up from 7.2 years in 2001.
The gap is widening for girls too, with poor girls born this year expected to die 5.8 years younger than rich girls – up from five years in 2001.
Researchers said the widening gap is ‘mainly about money’ and those on benefits and with little cash expected to die younger than their richer counterparts.
The report, by the Longevity Science Panel, will spark alarm among ministers as it shows that efforts to close the life expectancy gap are now kicking into reverse.
A major new study has found that the life expectancy gap between rich and poor is growing. A boy born in a disadvantaged neighbourhood today can expect to die 8.4 years earlier than someone in a wealthy area
Dame Karen Dunnell, who sits on the panel, said: ‘Dying earlier if you are poor is the most unfair outcome of all.
‘So we should all be concerned about the growing divergence in rich-poor life expectancy.
‘To reduce the risk of further widening, we need better understanding of the precise causes, followed by co-ordinated policy initiatives across health, work, welfare, pension and housing to improve outcomes for all.’
The report, which used official figures to estimate the life expectancy gap, also found that it is already having an impact on lives today.
It found that a 60 year-old man living in one of the fifth poorest areas can expect to die 5 years earlier – up from the 4.1 years in 2001.
The findings are a blow for Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt (pictured in Downing Street) and researchers said that austerity imposed on the NHS and social care could have fuelled the widening gap
While a 60 year-old woman could expect to die 4.2 years earlier if she is poor compared to a rich woman.
And while all groups are living longer, death rates fell more sharply for richer men than for poorer men – fuelling the widening gap.
Death rates have also fallen faster for the rich between 2001 and 2015 – at 32% among men aged 60 to 89 in the wealthiest fifth of society.
But this has slowed since 2011, and the report’s authors say austerity measures imposed on the NHS and social care could be to blame.
The figures were based on the Index of Multiple Deprivation, which divides England into 33,000 residential areas, according to factors such as income, employment, education and training and crime.
The report said that as the population ages, the gap in life expectancy between the rich and the poor could widen further.