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Life expectancy is down (particularly for men) and seems to be put down to Covid

brad465

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Today the ONS released its latest reports on UK life expectancy for the 2018-2020 period, with further analysis here, including a heavy focus on covid's role (but not exclusively):


Life expectancy for men in the UK has fallen for the first time in 40 years, according to Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimates.

Life expectancy at birth in the three years to 2020 was 79 years for men, falling back to a level last seen in 2012-14.

Female life expectancy was virtually unchanged, at just below 83.

Normally, life expectancy in the UK and around the world increases over time - and falls are rare.

But the Covid-19 pandemic saw life expectancy fall across most of Europe and the USA in 2020, on a scale not seen since the World War Two, according to research from Oxford University.

And experts say further reductions may be seen in the next year or so, before life expectancy starts to recover.

But what will happen in the longer term, as the effects of healthcare disruption become evident?

Continued


My thinking when it comes to measuring life expectancy is we shouldn't be obsessed with trying to lengthen it, as quality matters more than quantity. This is especially true where one spends their last years with a degenerative illness like dementia, and/or anything else where one relies on 24/7 care/dependence on another to get by. I know if I was in such a position near the end of my life, I'd be hoping "the old man's friend" comes sooner rather than later. There's also the wider costs to society of longer life expectancy, including health service burdens and more expensive state pension/old age allowances.

On the covid point more specifically, it's interesting to see covid being apparently responsible for a small decline in overall life expectancy, when the average age of covid deaths is slightly above that.
 
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MikeWM

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But there were all sorts of comments about life expectancy reducing before all this Covid stuff started. This article, for example, from March 2019:

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/mar/07/life-expectancy-slumps-by-five-months
Life expectancy falls by six months in biggest drop in UK forecasts
Decline in longevity in England and Wales ‘a trend as opposed to a blip’, experts say

Compared with 2015, projections for life expectancy are now down by 13 months for men and 14 months for women.
(no, I don't know why the URL says five months and the headline six months, but that's the Guardian for you).

Here's a graph that shows what happens to life expectancy when a really nasty pandemic comes along. Covid so far has not been one of those.

1632416208483.png

(I don't know what happened around 1730 to cause the massive drop seen on the left?)


I do agree entirely about quality/quantity, and our current obsession with quantity over quality is a root cause of many of our current issues. I suspect this is, at least in part, due to the decline in organised religion (if 'this is all there is', then better make it last as long as possible...)
 

greyman42

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On the covid point more specifically, it's interesting to see covid being apparently responsible for a small decline in overall life expectancy, when the average age of covid deaths is slightly above that.
Could this be due to people dying of other diseases that have not been treated during the pandemic?
 

Merseysider

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My thinking when it comes to measuring life expectancy is we shouldn't be obsessed with trying to lengthen it, as quality matters more than quantity. This is especially true where one spends their last years with a degenerative illness like dementia, and/or anything else where one relies on 24/7 care/dependence on another to get by. I know if I was in such a position near the end of my life, I'd be hoping "the old man's friend" comes sooner rather than later. There's also the wider costs to society of longer life expectancy, including health service burdens and more expensive state pension/old age allowances.
Well put.
 

APT618S

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One thing to bear in mind is that the BBC article is quoting "period life expectancy" and this shows "the average age a newborn would live to if current death rates continued for their whole life." (my bold).
This is highly unlikely as it would mean all these covid deaths year after year for the next 80+ years.

If all our lives were shortened by 1 year on average it would mean in the UK approx 60 million years of life lost. As of March 2021 we had lost 1.5 million years to covid or just over 9 days per person
Source:
 

Ianigsy

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Could this be due to people dying of other diseases that have not been treated during the pandemic?
Also some consequential deaths - our family has had two non-Covid deaths this year, one of which was due to alcoholism brought on by the individual concerned losing his livelihood as a market trader.
 

brad465

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Also some consequential deaths - our family has had two non-Covid deaths this year, one of which was due to alcoholism brought on by the individual concerned losing his livelihood as a market trader.
This is unfortunate, but not surprising: the ONS reported a while back that alcohol related deaths in 2020 were at a record high.
 

MikeWM

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The period from 1719 to 1730 saw three major outbreaks of the plague, so it may be related to that?

Appears to have affected France more than the UK though - admittedly this is not a period of history I'm terribly familiar with.

There's nothing obvious for around 1730 mentioned here

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_disasters_in_Great_Britain_and_Ireland_by_death_toll

except for a flu epidemic in 1729, but that wasn't remotely significant enough to cause such a dip.
 

Peter Mugridge

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Appears to have affected France more than the UK though - admittedly this is not a period of history I'm terribly familiar with.

There's nothing obvious for around 1730 mentioned here

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_disasters_in_Great_Britain_and_Ireland_by_death_toll

except for a flu epidemic in 1729, but that wasn't remotely significant enough to cause such a dip.
True, but I can't find anything else in that time span that might reasonably explain it. Could be worth a closer look, though - there must have been something...
 

61653 HTAFC

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Average Life Expectancy figures must be one of the most commonly misunderstood statistics around. One of the main reasons that average lifespan is significantly lower in developing countries (and in pre-industrial times) is high infant mortality, rather than people who stayed healthy dying of old-age in their forties.
 

yorkie

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Today the ONS released its latest reports on UK life expectancy for the 2018-2020 period, with further analysis here, including a heavy focus on covid's role (but not exclusively):





My thinking when it comes to measuring life expectancy is we shouldn't be obsessed with trying to lengthen it, as quality matters more than quantity. This is especially true where one spends their last years with a degenerative illness like dementia, and/or anything else where one relies on 24/7 care/dependence on another to get by. I know if I was in such a position near the end of my life, I'd be hoping "the old man's friend" comes sooner rather than later. There's also the wider costs to society of longer life expectancy, including health service burdens and more expensive state pension/old age allowances.
You are absolutely right but unfortunately our society doesn't seem to see sense on this issue.
On the covid point more specifically, it's interesting to see covid being apparently responsible for a small decline in overall life expectancy, when the average age of covid deaths is slightly above that.
Indeed; the reduction in life expectancy is down to the effects of restrictive measures and fallout from the pandemic rather than from the virus itself.

It's going to be impossible to measure the true impact for a very long time, but I also think the mental health toll of restrictions has had a much greater impact than the pro-restriction brigade will ever admit

Mental health is also inalienable from physical health, and to an extent widely underestimated.
 

61653 HTAFC

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Average Life Expectancy figures must be one of the most commonly misunderstood statistics around. One of the main reasons that average lifespan is significantly lower in developing countries (and in pre-industrial times) is high infant mortality, rather than people who stayed healthy dying of old-age in their forties.
For further clarification of my point...
The "excess deaths" due to Coronavirus will inevitably lead to Average Life Expectancy dropping, because that's how averages work.
 

yorkie

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For further clarification of my point...
The "excess deaths" due to Coronavirus will inevitably lead to Average Life Expectancy dropping, because that's how averages work.
Covid deaths themselves won't do that, if the average age of a Covid death is higher than the average age of other deaths, which I believe is the case.

However deaths due to other factors indirectly caused by the pandemic or the measures put in place in response to the pandemic will do.
 

61653 HTAFC

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Covid deaths themselves won't do that, if the average age of a Covid death is higher than the average age of other deaths, which I believe is the case.

However deaths due to other factors indirectly caused by the pandemic or the measures put in place in response to the pandemic will do.
Of course- brain-fart on my part there! What I meant to say was, those excess deaths of people younger than the average life expectancy will bring the average down. Of course not all Covid deaths are "excess deaths", particularly in the case of the very old, and those who already had chronic or terminal illnesses.

The indirect deaths are obviously harder to quantify. Indeed I would expect that deaths in 2020 from road traffic accidents will have been a fair bit lower than a "normal" year, but not to a level that would affect the overall life expectation figure.
 
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35B

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Covid deaths themselves won't do that, if the average age of a Covid death is higher than the average age of other deaths, which I believe is the case.

However deaths due to other factors indirectly caused by the pandemic or the measures put in place in response to the pandemic will do.
Deaths from Covid will still bring down the average age of death, because there will be more deaths at a younger age than without the deceased suffering from Covid. That is where the significance of the average death from Covid shortening the deceased's lifespan by 10 years comes in.

The same, mathematically, will be true of all causes of death. The question will be about the relative impact of each factor on the population as a whole, which will in turn depend on the number of deaths associated with the pandemic but not Covid itself, and the number of years on average that those deaths took off the life of those deceased.

What will make that analysis phenomenally difficult will be attributing cause and effect to conditions where Covid restrictions may have played a role in that condition, whether (as in the example @Ianigsy gives) there's a presumed cause and effect, or in others (say Sarah Harding's breast cancer) the role of Covid was more about access to treatment. Most examples will be a lot less direct in how they exhibit cause and effect, and many won't be visible in statistics for decades. For example, many are rightly concerned about the impact on education of the last two years. Yet if today's pupils struggle post-education, and that has an effect on their health, how is this one factor to be assessed amongst any others there may be in their lives?

I very much hope that longitudinal surveys are already running to look at sample populations to try to assess this.
 

takno

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Covid deaths themselves won't do that, if the average age of a Covid death is higher than the average age of other deaths, which I believe is the case.

However deaths due to other factors indirectly caused by the pandemic or the measures put in place in response to the pandemic will do.
Life expectancy figures are more confusing than a lot of other stats, but the fact remains that deaths at an age older than life expectancy but earlier than otherwise would have happened will still drag the stats down a bit. Ultimately life expectancy is only at 82 because a lot of people live to 90+, cancelling out the relatively small number of people who die much younger. If a lot of the people who were going to die at 90 die at 83 instead, life expectancy will fall.

You can quite reasonably argue that it doesn't matter enormously, that a lot of the people dying were ill and only going to last a bit longer anyway, or that it isn't unfair for people who've had their share to not be prioritized. You can't argue that life expectancy stats, calculated the way they are, won't be driven down by old people dying of Covid
 

BrianW

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Remembering 'correlation is not causation'- there is a case that covid struck most 'successfully' at those already suffering poor nutrition related to poor diet, poor education, poor parenting, poor self-esteem and not going to 'public'/ boarding school and Oxbridge and failing to beg successfully for handouts aka 'benefits'/ credit and not voting correctly if at all. The poor will always be with us, well for as long or short as they live and not in my back yard or countryside view. Maybe.
 

yorksrob

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Interestingly, the following article has just appeared on the BBC website suggesting that life expectancy has been declining in some areas of the North of England for the last ten years:


BBC News said:
Many areas in the north of England have seen life expectancy fall within the last decade, a new study suggests.

Differences across England have now become stark, say researchers - such as a 27-year gap in life expectancy for a man living in Kensington and Chelsea, compared with Blackpool.

Although Covid caused life expectancy to drop, this research suggests it was already in decline in many areas.

Researchers described the trend as "alarming".

"There has always been an impression in the UK that everyone's health is improving, even if not at the same pace," said Prof Majid Ezzati from Imperial College London which carried out the study.

"These data show that longevity has been getting worse for years in large parts of England."

The study, which has been published in The Lancet journal, analysed all deaths in England between 2002 and 2019. It then worked out the life expectancy for different communities, based on the death records in those places.

It found that while life expectancy rose in most places during the first decade of the millennium, from 2010 it began to decline in some places.

Areas in London and the home counties still continued on the path of living longer - but life expectancy fell in some urban parts of Leeds, Newcastle, Manchester, Liverpool and Blackpool where life expectancy was below 70 for men and 75 for women.

By 2019, the researchers say there was a 20-year gap in life expectancy between a woman living in Camden (95.4 years) versus a woman living in one area of Leeds (74.7 years).

And for men, there was a 27-year gap in life expectancy between areas in Kensington and Chelsea (95.3 years) and parts of Blackpool (68.3 years)

Average life expectancy in the UK is 79 years for men and just below 83 years for women, according to estimates from the Office for National Statistics.

"Declines in life expectancy used to be rare in wealthy countries like the UK, and happened when there were major adversities like wars and pandemics," said Prof Ezzati.

"For such declines to be seen in 'normal times' before the pandemic is alarming," he said - and he called for action to be taken.

The researchers say the differences are down to poverty, insecure employment as well as reductions in welfare support and healthcare.

They are calling on the government to increase investments in public health in areas with lower life expectancy.

The government has previously pledged to tackle regional inequalities in health as part of its "levelling-up" agenda.

In a speech earlier this year, Boris Johnson addressed the differences in life expectancy, and called it an "an outrage".

Cameron/Osborne austerity anyone ?
 

david1212

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.......

My thinking when it comes to measuring life expectancy is we shouldn't be obsessed with trying to lengthen it, as quality matters more than quantity. This is especially true where one spends their last years with a degenerative illness like dementia, and/or anything else where one relies on 24/7 care/dependence on another to get by. I know if I was in such a position near the end of my life, I'd be hoping "the old man's friend" comes sooner rather than later. There's also the wider costs to society of longer life expectancy, including health service burdens and more expensive state pension/old age allowances.

On the covid point more specifically, it's interesting to see covid being apparently responsible for a small decline in overall life expectancy, when the average age of covid deaths is slightly above that.

This is my view too. The last thing I want is a long time beyond the point of being able to even go the the loo without assistance, see the screen and operate normal PC, hold and read a book never mind cook basic meals, make rational decisions, go outside alone etc. Then there is seeing my remaining funds being used up at a rapid rate rather than going to the beneficiaries of my choice as well as the practical and financial burden directly on the state but ultimately each individual taxpayer.

Mathematically any imbalance across the age span will change the average age. As I see the average age of deaths where Covid is / was a factor logically will affect the oldest more as they have both the weakest immunity and the overall health to recover. Putting aside the period when the roads were quiet logically Covid will not have changed the number of road accident related deaths, similarly putting as business closures work place related deaths.
 

Jamiescott1

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Not sure thread to put this into as most relevant threads are locked.

Tonight there has been 2 premier league games suspended due to medical emergencies in the crowd (1 bring a heart attack, the other unknown). This follows one in a Newcastle game in October and one last month in a Sheffield United game.
Having followed football for over 30 years I can't recall there ever being medical emergencies in the crowd until this season.

Could these in part be due to lockdowns, delayed treatments or missed appointments because of covid.
(Don't want to speculate on individual cases)
 

Nicholas Lewis

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This is my view too. The last thing I want is a long time beyond the point of being able to even go the the loo without assistance, see the screen and operate normal PC, hold and read a book never mind cook basic meals, make rational decisions, go outside alone etc. Then there is seeing my remaining funds being used up at a rapid rate rather than going to the beneficiaries of my choice as well as the practical and financial burden directly on the state but ultimately each individual taxpayer.
Seconded and I believe the majority of people in this country would be of the same view so it needs a bold politician to say it as it is so a societal conversation can be had before the NHS implodes with an unsustainable demand being put on it.
 

21C101

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With reference to the original post,

<bad taste>Thank goodness for that, there is hope for the pension scheme yet</bad taste>

Not sure thread to put this into as most relevant threads are locked.

Tonight there has been 2 premier league games suspended due to medical emergencies in the crowd (1 bring a heart attack, the other unknown). This follows one in a Newcastle game in October and one last month in a Sheffield United game.
Having followed football for over 30 years I can't recall there ever being medical emergencies in the crowd until this season.

Could these in part be due to lockdowns, delayed treatments or missed appointments because of covid.
(Don't want to speculate on individual cases)
There have been bound to have been many similar medical emergencies in the crowd at various games over the years.

All that is new is that the powers that be now go into full panic/emoting mode and stop the game.
 

Baxenden Bank

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Seconded and I believe the majority of people in this country would be of the same view so it needs a bold politician to say it as it is so a societal conversation can be had before the NHS implodes with an unsustainable demand being put on it.
The mentality of the medical industry is that everyone must be kept alive as long as possible, regardless of cost, availability of resources to meet that cost, or the quality of life towards the 'natural' end of an individual's life having been kept alive by that industry.

As a wealthy country, having had a 'free' national health service for so long, people expect it to be so and remain so. If people were residents of a poorer country / developing nation they would not have those expectations of being kept alive through all sorts of treatments. Remember Sierra Leone having one more ventilator than Holby City? I guess the residents of Sierra Leone just don't clamour for treatment as they know it is simply not available. Hence the leaders of poorer countries often going abroad for treatment not available in their own country or similar health tourism facilities being available to their fellow countrymen.

As to life expectency, I guess anyone who doesn't get COVID will live as long as they would have lived anyway, regardless of the statisical reduction. Save for those whose non-COVID treatments simply didn't happen due to the national emergency.

Given that state pension ages were raised due to longer life expectancy, can we now expect to see that state pension age reduced? No, I guess not.



There have been bound to have been many similar medical emergencies in the crowd at various games over the years.

All that is new is that the powers that be now go into full panic/emoting mode and stop the game.
What were the ambulance response times (theoretical question)?

If the ground first-aiders can do initial treatment, then an ambulance crew quickly cart the casualty off on a trolley, that would have less impact (on the game being interupted) than the casualty remaining on site awating excavation due to lack of an emergency ambulance.
 
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brad465

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This comment made on the Financial Times website yesterday is I think a very good summary of how covid, it's impact on life expectancy and how we're treating the oldest in society:

1638623774221.png
 

Baxenden Bank

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This comment made on the Financial Times website yesterday is I think a very good summary of how covid, it's impact on life expectancy and how we're treating the oldest in society:

View attachment 106478
I wish Lord Farquaad all the best in his quest for an intelligent debate. I think he is on a hiding to nothing. The pitchfork-wielding mob have been unleashed through the 'benefits' of social media and whipped into hysteria by a click hungry media. Everyone MUST be kept alive FOREVER paid for by the bumper harvests of fruit from the magic money tree. Local decisions on health care priorities is the opposite to a postcode lottery on healthcare.
 

Jonny

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I wish Lord Farquaad all the best in his quest for an intelligent debate. I think he is on a hiding to nothing. The pitchfork-wielding mob have been unleashed through the 'benefits' of social media and whipped into hysteria by a click hungry media. Everyone MUST be kept alive FOREVER paid for by the bumper harvests of fruit from the magic money tree. Local decisions on health care priorities is the opposite to a postcode lottery on healthcare.

He has a good point, however while everyone has to die sometime (and I personally might not want to be actively kept alive if I was permanently poorly and suffering, but nature allowed to run its course on me) some people want to cling to dear life no matter what. I hope for their sake that whatever happens is both a long way away and swift. Otherwise, they may find that they have difficulty even expressing their wish to reconsider.
 

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