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Author Topic: Why is life expectancy lower in the north?  (Read 7860 times)

Offline Kevan Gelling

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Why is life expectancy lower in the north?
« on: 27/10/2009 23:29:59 »
From BBC News
Quote
Big variation in life expectancy

Babies born in Scotland have the average lowest life expectancy in the UK, latest figures show. The Office for National Statistics figures for 2006-08 show males in Scotland can expect to live to 75 years, and females to 79.9 years. In contrast, males in the south-east of England have the highest life expectancy, at 79.2 years, with females in the South West top at 83.1 years.

Life expectancy has improved in all areas between 1991-93 and 2006-08.  The biggest improvements were in London, which had increases of 4.9 years for males and 3.4 years for females.  The smallest increases were in Scotland for males (3.5 years) and in Wales for females (2.4 years).

In the same period the gap between male and female life expectancy at birth narrowed in the UK - from 5.4 years in 1991-93 to 4.2 years in 2006-08.  In 2006-08 the widest gaps between males and females were in Northern Ireland and Scotland (4.9 years).

Across the UK, the average life expectancy at birth for males in 2006-08 was 77.4 years, up four years on 1991-93. For females the UK average was 81.6 years, up 2.8 years on 1991-93. In 2006-08, average life expectancy at age 65 for the UK was 17.4 years for males, up 3.2 years from 1991-93. For females it rose by 2.1 years to 20 years.

Locally, Kensington and Chelsea recorded the highest average life expectancy at birth - 84.3 years for males and 88.9 years for females.  Glasgow City was the area which recorded the lowest average life expectancy at birth - 70.7 years for men and 77.2 years for women.

Professor Alan Maryon-Davis, president of the UK Faculty of Public Health, said: "It's good to see life expectancy increasing across the UK - and that men are steadily catching up. But the north/south divide remains and seems to be largely linked with deprivation. To close that gap we must keep improving the way our most disadvantaged communities live, learn, work and play - all of which profoundly affect health."

However, here are two images that I've taken from Office for National Statistics website.  There is a distinct North and West to South and East trend.

The potted answers of deprivation or north/south divide do not wash.  Why is Edinburgh worse than Bristol or Southampton, or Cheshire worse than Devon?  And why is the worse place to live in the UK the Outer Hebrides?




« Last Edit: 27/10/2009 23:38:18 by Kevan Gelling »


 

Offline RD

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Why is life expectancy lower in the north?
« Reply #1 on: 27/10/2009 23:59:13 »
In winter the North of Britain is colder than the South.

 This could be the reason the Scottish senior citizens don't survive as long as their southern counterparts...

Quote
In the United Kingdom mortality greatly increases in winter.
 This is apparent at all ages but is greatest in relative and absolute terms in elderly people.
http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/329/7467/647
« Last Edit: 28/10/2009 00:23:43 by RD »
 

Offline rosy

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Why is life expectancy lower in the north?
« Reply #2 on: 28/10/2009 10:47:51 »
Of course there's also the effect that there are more deprived areas in the north, especially where formerly industrial areas have undergone economic collapse, and poverty has a strong effect on life expectancy, see the recent furore around the differences in life expectancy in different regions of Glasgow.. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/glasgow_and_west/7584450.stm
 

Offline Kevan Gelling

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Why is life expectancy lower in the north?
« Reply #3 on: 28/10/2009 19:44:04 »
Of course there's also the effect that there are more deprived areas in the north, especially where formerly industrial areas have undergone economic collapse, and poverty has a strong effect on life expectancy, see the recent furore around the differences in life expectancy in different regions of Glasgow.. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/glasgow_and_west/7584450.stm

You can see in the original graphs above that living in a city does seem to affect life expectancy - Glasgow, Manchester and London all have areas that are lighter than their surrounds - and there is epidemiological research to back this up.   But what about those who do not live in the big cities?

Here's a UK map of disposable income from the ONS.  It suggests that the areas around Edinburgh and Aberdeen are wealthy as the Home Counties.  There is no north-south trend.



Here's a graph of low income from Poverty.org.uk.  Scotland is near the bottom and once again there is no north-south trend.

 

Offline Bored chemist

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Why is life expectancy lower in the north?
« Reply #4 on: 28/10/2009 21:12:46 »
It seems to me that the two distributions (wealth and longevity) seem to coincide fairly well.

In particular, there are rich bits of Scotland and they live longer there.
Unless they are spending their money on vitamin D it looks like wealth is the dominant cause of longevity- or at least they have a common cause.
The wealthy bits of Scotland are  not likely to have much more sunshine so intrinsic Vit d synthesis doesn't seem to explain the variation in lifespan.
 

Offline Kevan Gelling

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Why is life expectancy lower in the north?
« Reply #5 on: 28/10/2009 23:37:59 »
There's definitely a link between income and life expectancy and it may be the major factor but there appears to be something else at work.  For example Wales and the Midlands do better than their income relative to the posh bits of Scotland.

Here's income vs women's life expectancy.  You can see a similar effect across the South:


It would be interesting if the two sets of figures could be correlated to see if there a statistically significant unexplained effect.
 

Offline graham.d

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Why is life expectancy lower in the north?
« Reply #6 on: 29/10/2009 08:51:59 »
I agree that it life expectancy is highly correlated with socio-economic factors and not with the geography.

On a related issue which may be of interest, a recent report by the U.S. National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine has estimated damages to public health and the immediate physical environment from power plant and vehicular emissions. The estimates of deaths from pollution by power plants has gone down over previous estimates but is still amazingly high with the national cost of power plant emissions in 2005 being put at US $62 billion, and the damage from automotive emissions—from light vehicles, as well as medium- and heavy-duty trucks—at $56 billion. (source IEEE Spectrum)

 

Offline Kevan Gelling

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Why is life expectancy lower in the north?
« Reply #7 on: 14/07/2010 13:14:59 »
From Science Daily

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Glasgow's High Mortality Rates Are Not Explained by Deprivation Alone

ScienceDaily (June 25, 2010)

New research, published by Elsevier in the Royal Society for Public Health's journal Public Health, provides compelling evidence that deprivation alone cannot explain the poor health experienced by Glasgow's residents.

Although the link between deprivation and health is well established, work by the Glasgow Centre for Population Health (GCPH), along with University of Glasgow, NHS Manchester and Liverpool PCT suggests that other additional factors may be responsible for the high levels of mortality and poor health experienced in this Scottish city.

The study compared three major UK cities -- Glasgow, Liverpool and Manchester -- which share a number of characteristics including higher levels of poverty and poor health. Despite their similarities, and the fact that the socio-economic profiles of the populations living in all three cities are almost identical, premature deaths in Glasgow are more than 30% higher than in the other cities and this 'excess' mortality is seen across the population i.e. in different age groups (except children), for both males and females, and across those living in deprived and non-deprived neighborhoods.

For premature mortality, rates tended to be higher for the more deprived areas, especially among males and around a half of 'excess' deaths in people aged under 65 were directly related to alcohol and drugs.

The study findings suggest that while income deprivation is an important determinant of health, its impact is affected by context. Deprivation as currently measured does not explain the higher levels of mortality experienced in Glasgow. Additional explanations need to be found and steps taken to change the current trends and remove the so called 'Glasgow Effect'.

David Walsh, from the GCPH and lead author of the report, said, "Although deprivation is an extremely important determinant of poor health, in this case it does not appear to explain why mortality rates are so much higher in Glasgow than in Liverpool and Manchester. A number of hypotheses have been suggested which we hope to be able to examine in detail in a second phase of research."

Carol Tannahill, Director of the Glasgow Centre for Population Health added, "Improving the population's health is a major priority for the city of Glasgow. Developing deeper insights into the causes of the city's long-playing record of ill-health is an essential step towards turning that record around. Health in this part of the country has not always been worse than comparable regions and cities -- it's a phenomenon of the late 20th century -- and our aim is to try to understand how Glasgow can become a healthier city again in the future."

The Editors of Public Health have commissioned a series of open, peer-commentaries by leading experts to explore the hypotheses set out by the authors more fully. These will be published in subsequent issues of the journal to promote ongoing debate.

Here's a link to the abstract
 

Offline RD

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Why is life expectancy lower in the north?
« Reply #8 on: 14/07/2010 14:50:02 »
There may be a genetic factor in the “Glasgow effect“.

I'm not saying being "a ginger" has anything to do with the excess mortality, but the higher incidence of copper-tops north of the border does  illustrate that the genetics of Scots and English are not the same.

Perhaps there are pathological genes which are more common in Scots than Sassenachs.

There has been emigration from Scotland for many generations. As predominately the physically and mentally well would have emigrated this would make the remaining population have a higher incidence of dodgy genes.
 (This could also explain the surfeit of bampots in the land of the deep-fried pizza  :) ).


[I still think it's primarily the colder Scottish winters which are responsible for the excess mortality]
« Last Edit: 14/07/2010 16:16:18 by RD »
 

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Why is life expectancy lower in the north?
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