Womens’ vital statistics: inequality hits the poor hard

Spin, gloss and bluster all you like. But the actuarial tables of a declining nation tell the true story, as we have alluded to in blogs past, And the set reported by the OECD make grim reading indeed for the poorest women in England. [1] Although our write-up uses Andrew Gregory of the Guardian, we found it in many media outlets. And it’s a tale of real injustice.

Let’s imagine three different sisters from the same English family who, by chance of marriage or work (as these things usually are) end up at different parts of the national income distribution. The eldest, Laura, marries a successful property developer. She can expect to live 86.7 years, comparable with the overall average for Japan, which is the best in the world. The middle sister, Anna, marries a teacher; Her life expectancy is about 83 years, coming in at 25th out of the 38 OECD countries; mediocre. The youngest, Amy, who ends up as a single mum working as a care assistant can expect 78.7 years of life, which puts her on the same average level as women in Mexico. Without disrespect to the good people of Mexico, a sombre comparison indeed.

It’s the truly vast gaps that impress; for life expectancy grows from decades of lived experiences, of either easy comforts or crushing burdens of deprivation and disappointment. This is one data set of many, and we need to know more. But it seems to point to an England that is made up of about three different countries, with vastly different life experiences. Rather like Victorian Britain, in fact. And the social legacies of Victorian Britain were the direct cause of its decline in the following century [2]. We don’t know about your country, overseas readers. But British followers should be concerned indeed.

we thank Mr Peter Seymour for this idea

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/society/2022/apr/17/women-in-englands-poorest-areas-die-younger-than-in-most-oecd-countries?msclkid=337d4c91c07611

[2] Corelli Barnett The Audit of War Macmillan 1986

#poverty #women #life expectancy

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