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Health inequalities widen as rising mortality and falling life expectancy buck long-term trends

*** Embargoed until 0:00 Tuesday 21 May 2013 ***

Health inequalities widen as rising mortality and falling life expectancy buck long-term trends

In his new paper released today [Tuesday] for the Centre for Labour and Social Studies, Professor Danny Dorling shows how mortality rates in the UK are rising for the first time since the 1930s.

His new think piece: “In Place of Fear: Narrowing Health Inequalities” shows that apart from the war years, rises in mortality in England and Wales were last reported in the 1930s, in the midst of economic depression and surges in unemployment. However, in recent decades, living standards have risen fastest for the richest and only marginally for the poorest.

Dorling’s paper shows that almost no group experienced rising mortality rates until it was reported in 2011 that men in parts of Glasgow were dying younger and he points to new data showing that falling life expectancy is being recorded again.

Dorling, Professor of Human Geography at the University of Sheffield argues that one cause for this trend of growing health inequalities could be the fear and anxiety triggered by the Coalition Government’s programme of austerity.

Danny Dorling said:

“In 2013, as the principles of Bevan and Beveridge are being killed off, the belief that inequalities should narrow is also under attack. The 1930s were the last time the population of Britain was as polarised in terms of their health as we are today.

It is now well known that the strongest correlate to poor health is poverty, and the longer people live in poverty the shorter lives they can expect to live. What we can now be sure of is that as income and wealth inequalities rise, so too do health inequalities”.

This paper shows that the only way to tackle health inequalities is to address income inequalities. Strong policies countering the austerity agenda must be pursued to eradicate the fear and insecurity experienced by the most vulnerable in society and to prevent the growth of widespread social injustice we have seen under the Coalition Government.




Notes to Editors:

1. The Centre for Labour and Social Studies (Class) is a new think tank established in 2012 by Unite the Union, GMB and the Institute of Employment Rights to act as a centre for left debate and discussion and has the growing support of a number of trade Unions including ASLEF, CWU, GFTU, NUT, PCS, TSSA, and UCATT. Originating in the labour movement, Class is working with a broad coalition of supporters, academics and experts to develop and advance alternative policies for today.

2. A copy of ‘In Place of Fear: Narrowing Health Inequalities’ is attached and more information can be found here: (embargoed until 0.00am Tuesday 21 May 2013)

4. The author of the paper:

Danny Dorling is Professor of Human Geography at the University of Sheffield. His work concerns issues of housing, health, employment, education and poverty and he has written many books including The no‐nonsense guide to equality, Injustice: why social inequality persists and The Population of the UK.


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