Premature death rates show north-south inequalities persist, says study

9 Aug 17

Researchers have found a stark difference in the rate of people dying before average life expectancy in the north and south of England.

The study by academics from the University of Manchester was published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

It found excess mortality rates in the north had been consistent among those aged under 25 and over 45 for the past five decades but had “risen alarmingly among those aged 25-44 since the mid-1990s”, long before the recession began to affect living standards.

The study report described this as showing “profound and worsening structural inequality [which] requires more equitable economic, social and health policies”.

Strong social and geographical patterning of trends in premature mortality pointed to factors that lay beyond individuals’ responsibility for their own health, “demanding collective action and a strong policy response”.

The study said the north-south divide in prosperity had been evident as long ago the 18th century and had even been mentioned in Norman times.

Findings showed that from 1965 to 2010, premature mortality – defined as deaths per 10,000 aged under 75 - declined from 64 to 28 in southern England and 72 to 35 in northern England.

From 2010 to 2015 the rate of decline flattened out across the whole of England and so for the period 1965 to 2015 excess mortality in the north remained consistent.

But for the 25-34 and 35-44 age groups, excess mortality in the north increased sharply between 1995 and 2015 - from 2.2% to 29.3% and 3.3 to 49.4% respectively.

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