Lives of working class men '3.5 years shorter'

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Men from higher social classes can expect to live at least three years longer than those from the working classes, new figures show.

Men from higher social classes can expect to live at least three years longer than those from the working classes, new figures show.

Two decades ago, men from the professional, managerial and clerical classes could expect to live 2.6 years longer than those from the manual classes. But by the end of the 1990s, that figure became 3.5 years.

The steady increase in social inequalities was revealed yesterday in figures compiled by the Office of National Statistics, which said that a similar, although less consistent, pattern emerged for women.

Between 1977 and 1981, life expectancy for women from non-manual classes was 2.4 years longer than for women from the manual classes. By 1997-99 the difference had increased to 2.8 years.

The findings, published in the Health Statistics Quarterly journal, were based on an analysis of 800,000 people in England and Wales.

Dr Evan Harris, the Liberal Democrat health spokesman, claimed the widening gap was a "damning indictment of the Government's failure to reduce health inequalities".

When trends in life expectancy were assessed across the six social classes, there was some good news for men from the most disadvantaged class of unskilled labourers.

At the start of the 1990s, they could expect to live 9.4 years less than men from the highest professional class. But by the end of the decade this had narrowed to 7.4 years as smoking rates declined and lifestyles became healthier.

A separate analysis of how long people could expect to live in good health showed that in 1999, males could expect to live for 75.1 years with 66.6 years spent in good or fairly good general health and 60.4 years free from limiting long-standing illness or disability.

Women could expect to live for 80 years with 68.9 years spent in good or fairly good general health and 62.3 years free from limiting long-term illness or disability.

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