Health inequalities
Good health is vital for prosperity, allowing people to play an active role at work and in their communities. Improvements in life expectancy stalled in the decade before the pandemic and there are wide inequalities in health within and between local areas in the UK.

Deaths were 1.77 times higher for women and 1.76 times for men per 100,000 in the most deprived areas than the least deprived areas in 2019.
of people in the most deprived areas report poor health by age 55–59, over two decades earlier than those in the least deprived areas.
In 2019, female life expectancy in the UK was ranked 26th among 38 OECD countries. Male life expectancy was ranked 19th out of 38.
19.7 years
Women in the least deprived areas in England live a further 19.7 years in good health than those in the most deprived. For men, it's 18.4.

A woman born in Wokingham can expect to live 15 more years in good health than a woman born in Blackpool. A man born in Richmond upon Thames can expect to live 17 more years in good health than a man born in Belfast.

This stark inequality is played out in communities around the country, showing that the circumstances in which we live (the wider determinants of health) shape our health. The pandemic has highlighted these inequalities, with people from the poorest areas suffering disproportionately from COVID-19.

In the decade prior to the pandemic life expectancy improvements had stalled, health inequalities were large and growing – between different parts of the UK, and between the most and least deprived areas.

However, these inequalities are not inevitable. Addressing a deep-rooted, society-wide trend of this nature requires action by communities, business and government. This should be accompanied by a whole government strategy to improve health and health equity, with a focus on the wider factors – beyond health care and social care – that influence our health.


International comparisons of life expectancy


Life expectancy at birth for females in England among the most deprived 10% of local areas is lower...


International life expectancy at birth by sex


In 2019, life expectancy at birth for women in the UK was 26th out of 38 OECD countries. Compared to...


Proportion of population reporting good health by age and deprivation


Good health deteriorates faster for men and women living in the most deprived areas.


Life expectancy and healthy life expectancy at birth by deprivation


Life expectancy and healthy life expectancy at birth are lowest for people living in more deprived...


Map of healthy life expectancy at birth


Healthy life expectancy at birth varies across the UK. There is a gap in healthy life expectancy at...


Local healthy life expectancy at birth by region and sex


At regional level, the difference in health life expectancy is largest in Scotland. The North East...


Cohort survival curves


Over the last century, a higher percentage of people have survived or are expected to survive, at...


Inequalities in age-standardised mortality rates


Since 2011, improvements in mortality rates for men and women have stalled – both on average, and in...

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This is part of Evidence hub: What drives health inequalities?

Data, insights and analysis exploring how the circumstances in which we live shape our health
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