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Stark differences between London boroughs in the number of years people are expected to live with a disability

People in Newham are expected to live nine more years with a disability than those in Richmond upon Thames

Why is measuring years with and without a disability important?

Disability-free life expectancy (DFLE) adds a quality of life dimension to estimates of Life expectancy by dividing expected lifespan into time spent with and without a disability. By disability we mean a persistent illness or condition that limits day to day activities.

This data provides information on where in the country peoples’ activities are being most affected by their health and can be used by government to target resources to help reduce disability rates in the worst affected areas. This data can also be used to make decisions on health and social care funding, and for planning in both state and private pensions.

So what makes London unique?

Taking London as a whole, in 2008-10 a male at birth could expect to live 14.7 years of his life with a disability; for females it is 17.9 years. These figures are comparable with the average England estimates.

However, when the figures for the London boroughs are examined a stark inequality is revealed. In fact, when looking at all Upper Tier Local Authorities (UTLAs) in England (which include the London boroughs), London has the UTLAs with the highest (Richmond upon Thames) and lowest (Newham) DFLE for males. For females London has UTLAs in the top and bottom 10 in England. At birth, males and females in Richmond upon Thames can expect to live without a disability for more than 13 years longer than those in Newham.

When looking at the number of expected years that someone will live with a disability Newham comes out unfavourably again. Males and females in Newham can expect to live an additional nine years with a disability when compared to Richmond upon Thames. This is despite people in Richmond being expected to live over four years longer. This means the risk of living with a disabling health condition is higher at younger ages in Newham. The top five and bottom five London boroughs can be seen in Tables 1 and 2. 

Table 1: Top and bottom London boroughs for DFLE for males at birth

London borough  Disability-free life expectancy (years)  Expected years with a disability  Life expectancy (years) Proportion of life with a disability %
Top five         
Richmond upon Thames 70.3 11.0 81.2 13.5
Kingston upon Thames 70.2 10.6 80.9 13.2
Kensington and Chelsea 69.9 11.7 81.6 14.4
Bromley 69.4 10.7 80.2 13.4
Merton 68.1 12.0 80.0 14.9
Bottom five        
Islington 60.7 16.0 76.7 20.9
Harrow 59.9 21.8 81.7 26.6
Hackney 59.8 17.2 77.0 22.3
Tower Hamlets 58.4 17.7 76.2 23.3
Newham 56.5 20.0 76.5 26.1

Table notes:

  1. Figures may not sum due to rounding.
  2. Excludes residents of communal establishments except NHS housing and students in halls of residence where inclusion takes place at their parents' address.
  3. Disability-free life expectancy figures are not available for City of London because of insufficient population size.

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Table 2: Top and bottom London boroughs for DFLE for females at birth

London borough  Disability-free life expectancy (years)  Expected years with a disability  Life expectancy (years) Proportion of life with a disability %
Top five        
Richmond upon Thames 71.8 13.9 85.6 16.2
Kingston upon Thames 70.3 13.9 84.2 16.5
Bromley 70.2 14.0 84.2 16.6
Havering 68.9 14.5 83.5 17.4
Merton 68.9 14.9 83.8 17.7
Bottom five         
Barking and Dagenham 61.2 19.7 81.0 24.4
Brent 61.0 22.8 83.7 27.2
Waltham Forest 60.5 22.0 82.5 26.7
Tower Hamlets 60.0 21.3 81.3 26.2
Newham 58.5 22.9 81.4 28.1

Table notes:

  1. Figures may not sum due to rounding.
  2. Excludes residents of communal establishments except NHS housing and students in halls of residence where inclusion takes place at their parents' address.
  3. Disability-free life expectancy figures are not available for City of London because of insufficient population size.

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London, however, does not just have extremes of DFLE, it has boroughs across the national distribution. Maps 1 and 2 clearly show the variation within London. The different groups (colour bands) are based on all UTLAs in England and each is well represented in London for males and females.  However, it is the southern outer London boroughs which are more uniform and are among the best performing authorities in England.

Disability-free life expectancy (DFLE) for males at birth by London borough, 2008-10

A map showing a difference of up to 14 years disability-free life expectancy for males between London boroughs, 2008-10

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Disability-free life expectancy (DFLE) for females at birth by London borough, 2008-10

A map showing up to 14 years difference in disability-free life expectancy for females between London boroughs, 2008-10

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Explore the data for London and other parts of England for yourself

Interested in the patterns that you have seen? Explore DFLE data for different time points at  birth and at age 65 for males and females using our interactive maps.

The London borough of Havering has the greatest gender inequality in England

The largest gender inequality in England is also found in London. Females in Havering can expect to live for an additional 5.4 years free from disability than males. Havering is also one of only five UTLAs in England where females enjoy a greater proportion of their lives disability-free.

The local authority that has the largest gender inequality in favour of males in England is also found in London. Males in Brent at birth can expect to live 8.2 fewer years with a disability than females. Males in this local authority can expect to live 18.4% of their lives with a disability while for females the figure is 8.8 percentage points larger at 27.2 %.

Where can I find out more about health expectancy statistics?

These statistics were analysed by the Health Analysis team at ONS using data from the Annual population survey and published on the ONS website. If you’d like to find out more about the latest  health statistics please visit our Health and Social Care page. If you have any comments or suggestions, we’d like to hear them! Please email us at hle@ons.gsi.gov.uk or why not fill in our survey.

 

Background notes

  1. Figures may not sum due to rounding.

  2. Excludes residents of communal establishments except NHS housing and students in halls of residence where inclusion takes place at their parents' address.

  3. Disability-free life expectancy figures are not available for City of London because of insufficient population size.

Categories: Health and Social Care, Health of the Population, Disability and Self-reported Health, Health Expectancy
Content from the Office for National Statistics.
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