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Video Summary: Inequalities in disability free life expectancy across England

Released: 13 June 2012

This is a short video looking at inequalities in disability free life expectancy across England.

Health expectancies provide a dimension of quality to estimates of life expectancy. This is explained in another video linked in a description to this podcast. This chart shows how life and healthy and disability-free life expectancies change as we age.

In this podcast we will focus on disability free life expectancy, the length of time that a person can expect to live without a limiting chronic illness or disability, and what this measure tells us about inequalities in health across England.

These statistics are used to assess healthcare needs and target resource allocation. They are also used to assess fitness for work at and beyond pensionable age and as indicators of sustainable development. 

First we will look at disability free life expectancy across areas experiencing differing levels of deprivation. Deprivation here is defined by the Index of Multiple deprivation that scores small geographical areas according to housing, income, education, access to services, crime and other important socially relevant factors.

For this study we have divided England into fifths of relative deprivation.
Disability-free life expectancy declines in a linear fashion with increasing deprivation such that those in the least deprived areas, can expect to spend the longest periods of time free from a limiting chronic illness or disability, while those in the most deprived areas will spend the shortest amount of time disability free.

But how great is this inequality?

Firstly, looking at males at birth, those living in the least deprived areas can expect 69 years free from a limiting chronic illness or disability, at the other end of the scale, disability-free life expectancy is just 54 years in the most deprived areas. From birth then, males in the least deprived areas can expect to spend around 15 extra disability-free years compared to males in the most deprived areas. 

Now looking at females at birth, those in the least deprived areas can expect almost 70 years of life free from a limiting long-standing illness while in the most deprived areas this figure is around 57 years a difference of 13 years.

Figures for men and women at age 65 are available on the ONS website.

Now we will look at disability-free life expectancy across local authority districts in England.

In this map the lightest areas represent the highest estimates of disability-free life expectancy and the darkest areas represent the lowest estimates. 

Firstly looking at men at age 16, there is a clear North-South divide with low estimates in the north of the country and high estimates prevalent in the south.

Looking more locally, the countries lowest estimate is in Newham in London, where DFLE is just 40 years while the highest estimate is in Chiltern in the South East at almost 58 years. This means that around 18 years of disability-free life separate the men across this relatively small geographical distance.

Looking at the figures for women now. Again, on the whole, there is a clear North-South divide. Interestingly for women, the highest and lowest estimates of DFLE are in the north of the country. At it’s worst DFLE is just 41 years for women in Burnley in the North West and at best, DFLE is around 59 years in Richmondshire in Yorkshire and the Humber. As with men, some 18 years of disability-free life expectancy separate the women across this relatively small geographical distance.
 
Interactive versions of these maps showing life expectancy and disability-free life expectancy at age 16 and 65 across local authority districts in England are available on the ONS website.

Short video explaining differences in disability free life expectancy across England.

It shows differences between areas with different levels of deprivation within England. It then compares different local areas showing the highest and lowest disability free life expectancy.

Source: Office for National Statistics

Background notes

  1. Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available by visiting www.statisticsauthority.gov.uk/assessment/code-of-practice/index.html or from the Media Relations Office email: media.relations@ons.gsi.gov.uk

Content from the Office for National Statistics.
© Crown Copyright applies unless otherwise stated.