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Tackling Health Inequalities published

Just as income inequalities have increased since the 1970s so have health inequalities. The government has promised to tackle them.

In the period 1972-6, rich men lived on average 5.5 years longer than poorer men. By 1997 9 this had increased to 7.4 years. The death rate from coronary heart disease is 3 times higher among unskilled manual men of working age than among professional men. Location also makes a difference. Men in Manchester will live eight years less than men in Kensington or Chelsea in London. These statistics are all included in Tackling Health Inequalities, a government review which both outlines the problem and begins to suggest a strategy to address it.

Hazel Blears, the Under-Secretary of State for Public Health says thi is a 'top priority' for the government. She says: 'Despite increased national prosperity, wider opportunity and improving health over the last twenty years, there remain striking inequalities in health between groups and areas. In some areas of the country, life expectancy is the same now as the national average in the 1950s. For us, it is unacceptable that the opportunity for a long and healthy life today is still linked to social circumstances, childhood poverty, where you live, what job you do, how much your parents earned, your race and your gender. Our vision is of a country in which everyone has the same chance of good health, regardless of where they live or their social circumstances. To achieve it, we must tackle health inequalities where they occur now, and break the inter-generational cycle to prevent inequalities in future.'

Download PDF of Tackling Health Inequalities (28 page summary)

Selected stats from the Report

A gap in health status exists…

…between social groups

• The difference in life expectancy at birth between men in social classes I and V widened from 5.5 years in 1972—6 to 7.4 years in 1997—9; average life expectancy in 1997—9 being 78.5 years in social class I and 71.1 years in social class V. For women this gap increased slightly from 5.3 years to 5.7 years over the same period. Both gaps have narrowed slightly over the 1990s.

between different areas in the country

• Male residents in Manchester can expect to live nearly 8 years fewer than those of Kensington, Chelsea and Westminster, and its female residents can expect to live nearly 7 years fewer (7.7 and 6.6 years respectively).

between the population as a whole and different Black and minority ethnic groups

• In 2000, infant mortality among babies of mothers born in Pakistan was 12.2 per 1000 live births, more than double the infant mortality rate for all babies.

between men and women

• Men live, on average, about five years fewer than women (75.4 and 80.2 years respectively).

throughout the lifespan, starting at birth

• The infant mortality rate among children in social class V in 1998—2000 was double that for social class I, with rates rising from 4 deaths per 1000 live births in social class I to 5.4 in social class III (manual), 6.2 in social class IV and 8.1 in social class V. For lone parents the rate was 7.6 deaths per 1000 live births.

• Children in social class V are five times as likely to suffer accidental death than their peers in social class I, 83 and 16 per 100,000 respectively. Children in social class V are five times more likely to be killed as pedestrians in road accidents than children in social class I.

• Residential fire deaths for children are 15 times greater for children in social class V compared to those in social class I.

and in different causes of death and ill-health

• The death rate from coronary heart disease is 3 times higher among unskilled manual men of working age than

among professional men. The death rate in men under 65 years is 1.6 times higher in the North West Region than in the South East. In Manchester, the death rate for people under 65 years is over three times higher than in Kingston & Richmond: 69.3 and 20.6 per 100,000 respectively in 1998—2000.

• A woman in an affluent area is more likely to live for at least five years after a diagnosis of breast cancer than a woman in a deprived area (71% surviving for five years as compared with 63%).

• An unskilled working man was, at the time of the 1991 Census, almost four times more likely to commit suicide than his professional counterpart. Rates in partly skilled and manual skilled workers were twice as high as the professional group.




Page created on December 4th, 2002

Page updated on December 1st, 2009