Abstract

Hattersley L. Trends in life expectancy by social class - an update. Health Statistics Quarterly 1999; 2 (Summer): 16-24.

This paper examines trends in life expectancy in England and Wales by Social Class up to 1996. It updates a previous analysis published in Health Inequalities. The clear inequalities reported then are still present. Life expectancy at birth for men in Social Class I rose to 77.7 years by 1996 and that for men in Social Class V to 68.2 years (an increase of exactly 1 year and just under 4 months respectively when compared with 198791). Life expectancy at birth rose to 83.4 years for women in Social Class I and to 77.0 years for women in Social Class V. This represents rises of 2.5 years and just under 10 months respectively since 198791. The difference in life expectancy between Social Classes I and V was 9.5 years for men and 6.4 years for women by 1996. Inequalities in expectation of life between the social classes among women were decreasing up to 1991 but this trend has reversed and there is now a clearer social class gradient in life expectancy. An examination of the chance of survival from ages 2529 to 6569 showed a clear manual/ non-manual divide in the probability of survival for women from 1972 but not for men until 1991. The probability of survival from 6569 to at least age 85 shows a clear manual/non-manual divide for both sexes from 1972 onwards.