People born in the North of England are 20 percent more likely of premature death than those born in the South of England, according to research led by The University of Manchester.
An analysis of data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) discovered a stark North-South divide in life expectancy, with 1.2 million more early deaths in the North from 1965 to 2015 compared to those living in Southern England.
The study also found a higher prevalence of early death among middle-age adults. There were 49 percent more deaths among 35-44 year olds in the North in 2015.
There were also a higher proportion of early deaths among younger adults when compared to the South of England: 29 percent more deaths among 25-34 year olds in the North in 2015.
The findings raise questions over the fairness and reasons behind government policies, particularly the recent decision to bring forward changes to the state pension age and public health policy interventions of successive governments.
It suggests that a more regionalised approach to the state pension age should be considered. The study shows clear and evident variations in life expectancy across the UK, with those living in the South expected to live longer lives than other parts of the country.
Consideration should, perhaps, also be paid toward those with disabilities and chronic health conditions, as well as poorer families, who tend to live shorter lives than more affluent sections of society.
Lead researcher, Professor Iain Buchan from The University of Manchester said: “Five decades of death records tell a tale of two Englands, North and South, divided by resources and life expectancy – a profound inequality resistant to the public health interventions of successive governments.”
“A new approach is required, one that must address the economic and social factors that underpin early deaths, especially in younger populations, and one that focuses on rebalancing the wider economy to help drive investment in northern towns and cities.
“The devolution of centralised powers may enable civic leaders to seed the economic growth to tackle this divide, but only if they are given the proportionate northern weighting of funds to do so.”
Co-author, Prof Tim Doran from the University of York added: “These important findings were made possible by examining public health data – held by the NHS and other agencies – dating back decades.
“The data, technology and skills now exist to better understand population health and develop public policies to improve it proportionately.”
Chief Executive of the Northern Health Science Alliance, Dr Hakim Yadi OBE, said: “Health inequalities between the North and South of the country must be addressed by government as a priority.
“The NHSA wants to harness the North’s huge potential in health innovation and life sciences for the benefit of its 15 million population.
“Research conducted by IPPR North demonstrates the government invests much less in health research funding in the North of England than in the South, despite the huge need, as demonstrated by this research, to address inequalities”.
“The Life Sciences Industrial Strategy is one way in which to make the investment needed to readdress the health inequalities these figures so starkly demonstrate.”