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Report shows North-South split in healthy retirement prospects

Released: 13 June 2012 Download PDF

Changes to the official state pension age could have differing implications for peoples’ healthy retirement prospects, depending on whether they live in the more deprived or more affluent parts of England.

 A report issued today (13 June 2012) by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows a clear north-south divide in estimates of life expectancy (LE) and disability-free life expectancy (DFLE). So, if you are a man living in the North East, from the age of 16 the average disability-free years you can expect are 45.3 while for those in the South East it is 51.5 years.

The impending increase in the state pension age is therefore likely to have disproportionate implications for the length of retirement which is spent disability-free for both men and women if living in the North East region compared with the South East.

In terms of the proportion of life spent free from a limiting illness or disability, men in the South East can expect to spend around 80 per cent of their remaining lives, including retirement years, living disability free compared with only 74 per cent in the North East. For women the figures are around 77 per cent in the South East, compared with approximately 70 per cent in the North East.

This is despite the fact that life expectancy from age 16 is higher inthe South East (63.9 years for men and 67.7 years for women) than in the North East (61.3 years and 65.4 years respectively).

Therefore men and women in the North East not only experience shorter life expectancies, they also spend longer periods of time living with a limiting illness or disability than those in the South East.

Further data show that:

• For men, life expectancy at age 16 was lowest in Blackpool (58.3 years) and ten years higher in Kensington and Chelsea (69.0 years)
• For women, LE was lowest in Halton (63.7 years) and again highest in Kensington and Chelsea (73.2 years)
• For men, DFLE was lowest in Newham (40.2) representing around 66 per cent of remaining life spent disability-free while men in Chiltern could expect to spend 57.7 years, around 88 per cent of remaining life, spent disability-free.

The ONS findings highlight the fact that health inequalities have enormous social and economic costs and points to the likely benefits that would be realised if everyone experienced the same health as those in the best performing areas on these measures.

The recent (2010) Marmot review Health Inequalities in England and the Public Health Outcomes Framework both make a compelling case for monitoring these inequalities in order to assess what impact the government’s health and social policies designed to improve the health of those in disadvantaged areas at a much faster rate have in reducing the gap between areas with advantaged and disadvantaged populations.

Read the full report: Disability-free life expectancy, sub national estimates for England, 2007-09.

Background notes

  1. Issued by: Office for National Statistics, Government Buildings, Cardiff Road, Newport NP10 8XG

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    Tel Richard Miles 01633 456393

    Media Relations Office    0845 6041858
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  2. Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available by visiting or from the Media Relations Office email:

Content from the Office for National Statistics.
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