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Geographical variation in life expectancy at birth in England and Wales is largely explained by deprivation
  1. Laura M Woods,
  2. Bernard Rachet,
  3. Michael Riga,
  4. Noell Stone,
  5. Anjali Shah,
  6. Michel P Coleman
  1. Non-communicable Disease Epidemiology Unit, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
 Mrs L M Woods
 Non-communicable Disease Epidemiology Unit, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Keppel Street, London WC1E 7HT, UK;


Study objective: To describe the population mortality profile of England and Wales by deprivation and in each government office region (GOR) during 1998, and to quantify the influence of geography and deprivation in determining life expectancy.

Design: Construction of life tables describing age specific mortality rates and life expectancy at birth from death registrations and estimated population counts. Life tables were created for (a) quintiles of income deprivation based on the income domain score of the index of multiple deprivation 2000, (b) each GOR and Wales, and (c) every combination of deprivation and geography.

Setting: England and Wales.

Patients/participants: Residents of England and Wales, 1998.

Main results: Life expectancy at birth varies with deprivation quintile and is highest in the most affluent groups. The differences are mainly attributable to differences in mortality rates under 75 years of age. Regional life expectancies display a clear north-south gradient. Linear regression analysis shows that deprivation explains most of the geographical variation in life expectancy.

Conclusions: Geographical patterns of life expectancy identified within these data for England and Wales in 1998 are mainly attributable to variations in deprivation status as defined by the IMD 2000 income domain score.

  • GOR, government office region
  • IMD, index of multiple deprivation

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  • * For simplicity, from here on we will use the term “ward” to refer to the electoral wards in England and the electoral divisions in Wales.

  • Henceforth the term “region” will be used to refer to the nine government office regions (GOR) of England and Wales.

  • Funding: Cancer Research UK grant no C1336/A2990: Trends in socio-economic inequalities in cancer survival, England and Wales, up to 2000.

  • Conflicts of interest: none declared.

  • Ethical approval: data in public domain.

    The complete set of life tables is available in electronic form from the authors.

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