The Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety today published its report ‘NI Health and Social Care Inequalities Monitoring System - Life Expectancy Decomposition 2015: Explaining the Variations’.
This report is part of the Health and Social Care Inequalities Monitoring System (HSCIMS) and follows on from the report “Life Expectancy Decomposition - An Overview of changes in Northern Ireland life expectancy 2001-03 to 2008-10” published in 2013. For the first time, this report includes an assessment of the contributing factors to the differences in life expectancy estimates between Northern Ireland and that in the other UK countries, and RoI. In addition, assessments of avoidable mortality and life expectancy at age 65 gaps have also been presented for the first time.
Despite an overall improvement in life expectancy, gaps between the most and least deprived areas and between urban and rural areas remained. In addition, life expectancy in NI remained lower than in other regions of the UK and in RoI. This report identifies how changes in mortality patterns by age and cause of death can explain both the improvement in life expectancy as well as life expectancy gaps between NI and neighbouring countries. Both this report and the HSCIMS reports are published on the Departmental website
The key findings presented in the report are outlined below.
Changes in Northern Ireland life expectancy over time
1. Male life expectancy at birth in NI increased by 1.4 years from 76.3 in 2006-08 to 77.7 years in 2010-12, while female life expectancy increased by 0.9 years over the period to stand at 82.1 years. These improvements were mainly driven by falling mortality within the population aged 60 years and over and reduced mortality due to circulatory disease and avoidable causes.
Gender gap in Northern Ireland life expectancy at birth
2. In 2010-12 the gender differential stood at 4.4 years, with female life expectancy higher than males. Higher mortality for males due to circulatory disease and cancer (excluding breast cancer) were the largest contributors to the gap. Three-fifths of the gap (2.7 years) was attributable to avoidable causes of death (see notes to editors).
Deprivation gap between the most and least deprived
3. The gap in life expectancy at birth between the most and least deprived areas stood at 7.3 years for males and 4.3 years for females in 2010-12. Circulatory disease and cancer accounted for almost half of the male deprivation gap while higher cancer mortality was the largest contributor to the female deprivation gap.
Northern Ireland Life expectancy compared with other UK countries and the RoI
4. Although life expectancy rose fastest in NI over the period 1980-82 to 2010-12 (with the exception of females in the RoI), it remained lower than in other UK regions and RoI.
5. Life expectancy was 1.3 years lower for males in NI than in England, and 0.7 years lower for females. For males, higher mortality in NI from suicide (0.4 years), accidents (0.3 years) and coronary heart disease (0.3 years) each explained more than a fifth of the total difference. For females, higher levels of mortality for the majority of causes examined, most notably perinatal conditions (0.1 years) and coronary heart disease (0.1 years), led to the difference.
6. While female life expectancy in NI is now the same as in Wales, male life expectancy in NI remains 0.4 years lower, mainly due to higher mortality from suicide, pregnancy/infant conditions and selected forms of cancer (lymphatic, lung and prostate).
7. In 2010-12, life expectancy in NI was 1.2 years higher for males and 1.4 years higher for females than in Scotland. For both genders, the largest contributing causes of death to the differences were higher mortality in Scotland from circulatory disease and cancer.
8. In 2010-12, both male and female life expectancy in NI were 0.6 years lower than in RoI. Higher mortality due to a range of causes, including mental and behavioural disorders (0.2 years), as well as various forms of cancer and respiratory diseases, were the largest contributors to the male gap. The largest contributors to the female differential were mental and behavioural disorders (0.3 years) and respiratory diseases (0.2 years).
Life expectancy gap between urban and rural areas
9. In 2010-12, males in rural areas could expect to live on average 2.3 years longer than those in urban areas. Female life expectancy was also higher (2.0 years) in rural areas than in urban areas. The largest contributor to both rurality gaps was cancer.
10. Over half of the improvement seen in life expectancy for both males and females between 2006-08 and 2010-12 was due to a reduction in avoidable mortality. However, avoidable mortality remains notably higher in deprived areas, accounting for four-fifths of the male and two-thirds of the female gap.
Notes to editors:
- The Health and Social Care Inequalities Monitoring System (HSCIMS) comprises a basket of indicators (including life expectancy) which are monitored over time to assess area differences in mortality, morbidity, utilisation of and access to health and social care services in Northern Ireland. Inequalities between the 20% most deprived and both the 20% least deprived areas and Northern Ireland as a whole are measured. Results for rural areas are also compared against urban areas. The HSCIMS has expanded over recent years to encompass additional analyses to inform on the health inequalities that exist within Northern Ireland as a whole and its sub geographical areas.
- Both the HSCIMS and this report define deprived areas as the 20% most deprived Super Output Areas according to the multiple deprivation measure (published by NISRA in 2005 and updated in 2010). Similarly, both the HSCIMS and this report use the same definition of rural areas as outlined in the “Report of the Inter-Departmental Urban-Rural Definition Group” (NISRA 2005).
- All NI analyses and calculations are based on official deaths data sourced from the General Register Office and population data published by NISRA. The methodology used to calculate life expectancy is consistent with that used in the HSCIMS bulletins. Analyses of other countries in the UK and the RoI are based on official deaths and population data sourced from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), Central Statistics Office (CSO) and National Records of Scotland (NRS).
- All HSCIMS reports are published on the Departmental website
- Avoidable deaths have been identified according to the Office for National Statistics and include all deaths defined as preventable, amenable, or both, where each death is counted only once. A death is amenable if, in the light of medical knowledge and technology at the time of death, all or most deaths from that cause (subject to age limits if appropriate) could be avoided through good quality healthcare. A death is preventable if, in the light of understanding of the determinants of health at the time of death, all or most deaths from that cause (subject to age limits if appropriate) could be avoided by public health interventions in the broadest sense.
- Further information on the Health and Social Care inequalities Monitoring System is available from Public Health Information and Research Branch
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