NEWS: Will you live 3.5 years longer if you move south?

These latest statistics seem to suggest that if you really want to live to 100 you might consider moving home. There are significant, deep routed differences in life expectancy in England and Wales, with people in the north of England and Wales, typically living shorter lives than those in the south and south-east.

Here are the top places to be living at 65 if you want to live a long life: Kensington and Chelsea, Westminster, Harrow, East Dorset, St Albans, Waverley, Chiltern, East Cambridgeshire, Camden, East Devon.

And these are the worst places: Rhondda Cynon Taf, Liverpool, Burnley, Middlesborough, Bolsover, Stoke on Trent, Kingston upon Hull, Blackpool, Blaenau Gwent and Manchester.

I was born in Hull but moved to London in the early 1980s and now live in the borough of Barnet. In theory, that move will have put another 3 and a half years on my lifespan. In Hull at age 65 I could expect to live another 16.8 years but in Barnet I can expect to live another 20.3 years.

The reality is, of course, far more complicated. The difference in average life expectancy is related to issues of deprivation such as low income and poor housing. But these factors will differ widely even within different parts of  Hull and Barnet – people in the posher suburbs will tend to live longer than those on run-down estates.

Similarly, on average the more deprived the area I live in the more likely I am to be affected by lifestyle factors like smoking and obesity. Yet this tells us little about individuals: obviously there are lots of wealthy people who smoke and lots of healthy-weight people on low incomes.

And all of this is influenced – sometimes heavily – by individual genetic make-up and exposure to random events (see ‘luck’, Ways to Live to 100 no. 27). If I do smoke, I may be one of the lucky few who have genes that appear to protect me against its effects. But I still might get struck by lightning or die in a car accident.

So some people in deprived areas will still live to 100 while some in wealthy enclaves will die at birth. Moving to Barnet might have helped nudge the odds a little in my favour but it’s no guarantee of a longer life.

Source: Life expectancy at birth and at age 65 by local areas in England and Wales, 2012 to 2014 – ONS

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