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Issue 483, 5 June 2002

Living longer in Yorkshire

People across Yorkshire are living longer, but a regional north-south divide in health is widening – a reversal of national patterns of affluence and deprivation, according to geography professor Phil Rees and research student Dominic Brown.

In a recent article for Yorkshire Universities' Regional Review, the researchers analysed mortality rates relative to averages for England and Wales, and looked at life expectancy on a ward by ward basis to plot the health of Yorkshire and Humberside over two three-year periods.

Levels of mortality were lower in rural north Yorkshire wards than in the more industrialised south. This disparity had increased over the period studied and the difference was greatest for adult men.

"Male exposure to more occupational health risks and their reluctance to seek healthcare are probable contributory factors," said Dominic Brown.

Lower Swaledale had the lowest male mortality rate for both time periods studied – 1990-92 and 1996-98 – with Tong and Bradford Moor showing the highest.

Life expectancy across the region had improved. However, it repeated the pattern of mortality with greater differences in longevity appearing for men. The male average rose from 73.1 to 74.7 and for females from 78.7 to 79.7.

Life expectancies were greater in northern areas such as Ryedale but people in Kingston upon Hull and Barnsley had the lowest in Yorkshire.

"Our figures show that, at both district and ward scales, relatively healthy areas have been getting healthier at a faster rate than the least healthy areas, with an increase in mortality inequality between different parts of the region," said Professor Rees.

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