Money does count when it comes to longevity – but it is not the only factor, reveals a study based on UK data conducted by actuarial consultancy Hymans Robertson’s pension scheme advisory unit, Club Vita. Also at play are factors such as occupation, gender, lifestyle and retirement health.
Analysing data from the Office for National Statistics and Scottish Neighbourhood Statistics, Club Vita found that people living in Kensington and Chelsea live on average the longest in the UK to 86.6, six years above the national average of 79.6 years. Residents of the two London suburbs also enjoy the second-highest average gross weekly income in the UK: £1,113 ($1,710) compared with the national average of £650.
At the other end of the scale, Glasgow has the lowest life expectancy of anywhere in the UK at just 74 years. Weekly household income is just £434 per week, the ninth-lowest in the country.
“The link between high wealth and increased life expectancy has been suspected, but our analysis highlights the true extent of the longevity gap between the haves and have-nots in society,” commented Club Vita’s CEO Nick Flint. “Across the UK we’ve seen life expectancy increasing more slowly at the lower end over the past 15 years and this trend looks set to continue.”
However, the pattern across the UK is not universal, with Club Vita finding several anomalies where the direct link between affluence and life expectancy breaks down. For example, those living in Mid- and West Wales go against the trend with residents living to well above the UK average age despite earning less than the UK average.
Conversely, much of South West London enjoys high income, yet Club Vita found that life expectancy levels are not universally as high as might be expected. Similarly, those living in many London commuter towns also have a life expectancy that is less than the national average for people earning similar incomes.
“Anomalies across the UK prove that there are other key factors that play an important role in determining how long people live,” said Flint. “Club Vita’s analysis of pension schemes shows that for many people, it’s not how much you earn, but how you choose to spend it that really matters.”
Flint also noted that while a significant gap remains between male and female life expectancies, the gap is closing.
“Over the past three decades, lifestyle improvements, particularly for men, have had a direct and positive effect on life spans,” said Flint.
“From a historical perspective there’s scope for men to catch up further. For example, it is only since World War II that the life expectancy gap really opened up among pensioners.”