Trends in mortality inequalities across UK local areas between 1991 and 2007

Pia N. Wohland, Newcastle University
Philip H. Rees, University of Leeds
Carol Jagger, Newcastle University

Life expectancy in the UK has increased continuously over the last three decades, but we observe pronounced differences: England enjoys higher life expectancies compared to the other home countries, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. Within each country there is considerable variation across local areas. In this paper we investigate trends in life expectancy by local area across the UK, constructing life tables for each local authority. We present changes in life expectancies means and distributions across local areas over a 17 year period (1991-2007). To better understand these changes we look at the behaviour of local authorities using three classifications: (1) by local authorities sorted into quintiles by life expectancy rank in 1991, (2) by deprivation quintile in 1991 and (3) by a generic classification at the start of the period and find evidence of moderate divergence. Although the trends in life expectancy in all classes were upwards in virtually all cases, the lowest ranked quintiles, deprivation quintile and worst performing generic groups of local authorities had smaller gains than the highest ranked and best performing. We also computed a suite of standard statistical measures and specific measures of convergence used in the income and health inequality literature. Nearly all measures pointed to a widening of the distribution over time but at the same time suggest that local authorities move up and down the life expectancy league table. To better understand and explain these findings, we analyse whether and how changes in local socioeconomic circumstances might have contributed to these trends in local area life expectancies in the UK.

Presented in Poster Session 2