How wealth affects health

PEOPLE living in the richest parts of Bristol live for a decade longer on average than those in the poorest parts. Men in Lawrence Hill have the lowest life expectancy of 72 years, while men in Westbury-on-Trym and Henleaze have the highest at 83.

Women tend to live longer than men. The area with the lowest life expectancy for women is in Hartcliffe and Withywood, at 79 years, while the highest is in Clifton, at 88.

Both men and women in Bristol live shorter lives than the English average, according to the latest data in the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment. This is put together by Bristol City Council and the local NHS integrated care board, detailing the city’s health needs.

The JSNA says: “People in Bristol are living longer. However, the last three years have seen a slight decrease in life expectancy due to effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. Compared to 2019, male life expectancy in Bristol is 1.2 years shorter, and female life expectancy is 0.2 years shorter.

“It is possible to extend life expectancy if people adopt healthy lifestyles, if improvements are made to the wider determinants of health such as employment, and if vulnerable people are supported through their life, for instance by averting and mitigating the impact of adverse childhood experiences.”

Men in Bristol can expect to live for 77.8 years, just below the English average of 79.3 years. Women can expect to live for 82.7 years, slightly lower than the English average of 83.1 years. Data on life expectancy among different ethnic groups is not possible to estimate, due to a limited amount of personal details recorded on a death certificate.

Areas where people live longer lives include Stoke Bishop, Cotham, and Bishopston and Ashley Down. Areas where people live shorter lives include Southmead, Filwood, and St George West. There is a clear link between poverty levels and shorter life expectancies, shown in the data.

Across England, life expectancy had been steadily rising since the 19th century, until 2011, according to the King’s Fund, a health think tank. Increases then slowed, due to a range of causes including deadlier strains of flu viruses circulating over the last decade, as well as austerity.

A major part of the difference between why women live longer than men, and why people in richer areas live longer than poorer areas, is due to differences in smoking rates. Other factors include diet, access to healthcare, income, education, housing and employment.

By Alex Seabrook, Local Democracy Reporting Service