Health inequalities within the UK and between the UK and other countries in the twenty-first century.

Health is a major component of wellbeing. It is difficult to be fully participant in family and community life, to work to one’s potential and to enjoy life, without good health.

According to the 2019 Annual Report on Health Inequalities (Department of Health, 2019), in Northern Ireland, there is a 7.1 year difference in life expectancy between men living in the most and least deprived areas. Healthy life expectancy declined for all individuals between 2011-13 and 2015-17. Looking more closely at certain risk factors, drug related and alcohol-specific mortality in the most deprived areas around four and a half times the rates seen in the least deprived. In 2017, the proportion of births where the mother reported smoking during pregnancy in the most deprived areas was almost five times the rate in the least deprived (DoH, 2019) although we will not be looking at births, we will be looking at mortality of young children where health practices during pregnancy may be very important.

Using this information, one purpose of this project is to calculate mortality rates (instead of life expectancy). We would like to look at different age groups e.g. infants, middle age-men and pension age groups to see if inequality has evolved for certain groups differently over time.

There has been no comparison of socioeconomic inequalities in mortality between all of the constituent countries of the UK together in one study to date. This project will do this.

Practically, this will involve

  1. Looking at correlations between individual characteristics such as education levels, gender, race, and local deprivations with mortalities rates
  2. Look at mortality rates of certain causes related to certain life risk factors. In particular we would like to look at ‘deaths of despair’, i.e. deaths related to drugs, alcohol and suicide and how these differ by different socioeconomic groups.
  3. Looking at the evolution of inequalities depending on e.g. education levels over time. Has inequality grown or decreased over time, when comparing mortality between degree holders and non-degree holders. We will also be interested in comparing different occupation groups.

This research project is part of the Institute for Fiscal Studies’ Deaton Review of Inequality. We propose several linked pieces of research to understand a few of the many dimensions of inequality.


Research Team: Lucy Kraftman, Anne Case, Johan Mackenbach
Database: NILS
Project Status: withdrawn
Organisation(s): Institute for Fiscal Studies, London; Princeton University, New Jersey; Erasmus MC