UK: Big data study shows north-south health divide is bigger than ever

01 Sep 2017 | News

An early death under age 75 is 20 per cent more likely in the north than the south of England according to research led by Manchester University, which shows there 14,333 more premature deaths in the north in 2015 and 1.2 million more early deaths in the north from 1965 to 2015

The north-south divide in deaths among middle aged adults, has been rising since the mid-90s and is now at alarming levels, with 49 per cent more deaths among 35-44 year olds in the north in 2015 and 29 percent more deaths among 25-34 year olds in the north in 2015

The research shows the sharp increase in premature deaths among middle aged adults in the north first emerged in the mid-1990s and increased quickly and consistently until the end of the study period in 2015.

The study used data from the Office of National Statistics on the whole English population from 1965 to 2015. It was supported by the Health eResearch Centre at Manchester University.

Lead researcher Iain Buchan said, “Five decades of death records tell a tale of two Englands, north and south, divided by resources and life expectancy - a profound inequality resistant to the public health interventions of successive governments.”

A new approach is required that addresses the economic and social factors that underpin early deaths, especially in younger populations, and one focuses on rebalancing the wider economy to help drive investment in northern towns and cities, said Buchan.

Co-author, Tim Doran from York University said, “These important findings were made possible by examining public health data, held by the NHS and other agencies, dating back decades. The data, technology and skills now exist to better understand population health and develop public policies to improve it proportionately.”

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