We’re living longer than ever before. Newborn boys and girls are expected to live well into their 80s and with an ageing population the state pension age is set to rise to 70 sooner rather than later.  Longer lives and extended careers mean a healthy lifestyle is more important but statistics show where you live affects your quality of life and how many years you’re expected to be healthy.

North-south divide

For example, men and women in Rutland and Wokingham have a healthy life expectancy (HLE) of more than 70 years. The east London borough of Tower Hamlets, on the other hand, which has the worst level in the country, has a HLE of 52 years for women and 54 for men. Manchester does not fare much better with a HLE of 55 years for males and females. Overall the figures show a distinct north-south divide with those living in some of the most affluent areas in southern England living much longer healthy lives longer than those in areas in the north.

10 areas with best healthy life expectancy:

  • Rutland - 70.8
  • Wokingham - 70.7
  • Richmond upon Thames - 69.9
  • Buckinghamshire - 69.8
  • Harrow - 69.6
  • Windsor and Maidenhead - 69.6
  • Oxfordshire - 69.5
  • West Berkshire - 69.3
  • Bromley - 69
  • Bracknell Forest - 68.9

10 areas with worst healthy life expectancy:

  • Tameside - 57.6
  • Liverpool - 57.5
  • County Durham - 57.5
  • South Tyneside - 57.4
  • Barnsley - 57.2
  • Nottingham - 57
  • Hartlepool - 56.1
  • Hull - 56
  • Manchester - 55.6
  • Tower Hamlets - 53.2

Statisticians at the Office for National Statistics say there are a number of factors that contribute to a person’s HLE including their employment, whether they smoke or not and whether they exercise or not. 

Discussing the impact of location, the ONS said: “Where a person lives clearly has a significant impact on their healthy life expectancy. Boys born in England’s wealthiest areas can expect 19 extra healthy years compared with boys in the country’s poorest areas. For girls, this stretches to 20 years. Deprivation is not spread evenly across the country and therefore helps to explain some of the variation in healthy life expectancy between areas. The North of England represents 30% of the population, but is home to 50% of the poorest areas."