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Life Expectancy Progress in UK ‘Stops for First Time’

Life expectancy in the UK has stopped improving for the first time since 1982, when figures began.

Women’s life expectancy from birth remains 82.9 years and for men it is 79.2, the figures from the Office for National Statistics, for 2015-17, show.

In some parts of the UK, life expectancy has even decreased.

For men and women in Scotland and Wales, it declined by more than a month. Men in Northern Ireland have seen a similar fall.

For women in Northern Ireland, and for men and women in England, life expectancy at birth is unchanged.

The ONS said the stalling of life expectancy was linked to a particularly high number of deaths from 2015 to 2017, which coincided with a bad flu season and excess winter deaths.

It said there was “much ongoing debate” about the reasons behind this and what direction the trend may take in the future.

What’s happening

It is not clear what is driving the trend, but some academics have argued that government austerity policies, such as cuts to social care budgets in England, must have played a part.

Ministers have said that no such causation can be proved, although Public Health England has been asked to carry out a review of life expectancy trends.

Dr Kingsley Purdam, senior lecturer in social research methods and statistics at the University of Manchester, said the figures were “shocking”.

“Poverty, austerity and cuts to public services are impacting on how long people are living in the UK,” he said.

“We all need to look after our health but many of us, including the most vulnerable populations, need help at a time when evidence suggests that services are being cut.

“The lost years of life have an impact not just on the individual but on those people who are ultimately left behind including partners, children and grandchildren.”

 

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Source: BBC News