A newly published government report has revealed that male and female life expectancy has dropped in Derry City and Strabane.
In 2016-18, life expectancy in Northern Ireland (NI) was 78.7 years for males and 82.4 years for females, similar to 2015-17, according to the Department of Health study.
However, in Derry and Strabane those figures now sit at 78 years for men and 81.3 years for females.
Life expectancy refers to the number of years a person would expect to live if the current mortality patterns remain constant.
That means women living in Derry City and Strabane are expected to live a full year less than those in other parts of the country, almost two years less than those living in areas such as Lisburn & Castlereagh or Causeway Coast & Glens. Men around eight and a half months less.
Male life expectancy is lower in Derry City and Strabane due to respiratory illnesses, digestive diseases and circulatory conditions.
The report states that female life expectancy in Derry City and Strabane is “significantly lower” than the NI average. Causal factors identified are respiratory, circulatory, and nervous system disorders - mainly Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
Derry and Strabane is one of just two Local Government Districts (LGDs) were life expectancy drops below the NI average, the other being Belfast where it is 76.3 years and 81.1 for males and females respectively.
Research has shown there is a link between lower life expectancy and deprivation. A 2017 government report by the NI Statistics and Research Agency highlighted the 100 most deprived areas in the country.
Northern Ireland is broken down into 890 Super Output Areas (SOAs). Derry and Strabane is divided into 75 SOAs and, of that total, 20 (27%) appear in a list of the top 100 most deprived areas in NI.
Parts of Creggan, the Brandywell, Shantallow, Culmore and Rosemount all feature.
Out of Belfast’s 174 SOAs, 50 (29%) are in the top 100.
Socio-economic inequalities in life expectancy are said to be widening in both sexes as a result of greater gains in life expectancy in more affluent populations.
Those living in the most deprived areas spend nearly a third of their lives in poor health, compared with only about a sixth for those in the least deprived areas.
Flat or falling life expectancy can also have major implications for health, finance and government policy.
The state pension age is currently 65 for men and is gradually increasing for women from 60 to 65. The current government is planning to increase it further, which will raise the State Pension age from 66 to 67 between 2026 and 2028.
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