Life expectancy in England has ground to a halt for the first time in a century, according to a landmark report.
Professor Sir Michael Marmot, a leading expert on public health, said the widening gap between the rich and poor is to blame.
His 172-page report said life expectancy in England has barely improved in the last decade – the first time in more than 100 years it has failed to significantly increase for a 10-year period.
And for those in the poorest areas it has actually declined – by almost a year for women living in the North East.
The University College London professor said the nation had ‘lost a decade’ and ‘England is faltering,’ Professor Marmot said.
The graphic above shows the life expectancy rates for both women and men from 1981 to 2018
Life expectancy for those in the poorest areas has actually declined – by almost a year for women living in the North East
Figures show how the UK has gained less than eight weeks in life expectancy improvements since 2011. The US has barely had an improvement for men, and has had less than a two week rise for women. Estonia leads the way, with men gaining more than 20 weeks in the last decade
A graph shows how life expectancy at birth has changed across England since 2010 for men, with jumps recorded in all of the least deprived areas – but the opposite has happened in some of the most deprived parts of the country
The report also contained data showing how life expectancy at birth has changed for women, with similar increases seen in the least deprived areas. The rate only increased in one of the deprived regions
HOW HAS LIFE EXPECTANCY CHANGED IN THE MOST DEPRIVED AREAS OF ENGLAND SINCE 2010?
Men: +0.43 years
Women: +0.04 years
Men: -0.5 years
Women: -0.85 years
YORKSHIRE & THE HUMBER
Men: -0.28 years
Women: -0.36 years
Men: +0.13 years
Women: -0.81 years
EAST OF ENGLAND
Men: -0.18 years
Women: -0.31 years
Men: +0.27 years
Women: +0.09 years
Men: +0.08 years
Women: -0.5 years
Men: +1.23 years
Women: +0.91 years
Men: +0.14 years
Women: -0.32 years
‘From the beginning of the 20th century, England experienced continuous improvements in life expectancy but from 2011 these improvements slowed dramatically.’
Life expectancy in men has risen by just half a year, from 79.01 in 2010-12 to 79.56 in 2016-18.
While in women it rose by about a third of a year from 82.83 to 83.18, according to the report by the Institute of Health Equity.
The University College London-led body launched in 2011, and is supported by the Department of Health and the British Medical Association.
Professor Marmot said this was a dramatic slow-down compared to before 2010, when life expectancy had steadily risen for more than a century.
‘Pretty much – with a few dips and bounces – life expectancy improved about one year every four years from the end of the 19th century until 2010, then it slowed down dramatically,’ he said.
He calculated that only 20 per cent of the recent slow-down was due to bad flu seasons – and the rest down to deep-rooted issues.
‘If health has stopped improving, that means society has stopped improving and if health inequalities continue and in fact increase, that means inequalities in society have been increasing,’ Professor Marmot said.
‘A similar lost decade would mean continuing worsening of health inequalities and continued flatlining of life expectancy.’ He said poverty, inequality and the politics of austerity were to blame.
The difference in life expectancy between the richest and poorest 10 per cent of people has increased from 9.1 years to 9.5 years for men since 2010 and from 6.8 years to 7.7 years for women, he said.
‘This damage to the nation’s health need not have happened,’ Professor Marmot said.
‘It is shocking. The UK has been seen as a world leader in identifying and addressing health inequalities but something dramatic is happening.
Men born in the most deprived areas of Britain can expect to live until they are around 74, almost a decade less than those born in affluent areas. For women, the difference is about eight years (78 compared to 86)