UK Life Expectancy and Spatial Analysis

Posted on Posted in Human Geography, Political Geography

The UK Pensions Minister has proposed a plan that  estimates life expectancy based on such as home location. In a BBC article, “Pensioners Could Get Life Expectancy Guidance”  the Minister Steve Webb states that life expectancy planning based on data such as how long our grandparents lived is no longer a valid estimate tool. A review of articles in the BBC, Telegraph, The Mirror and  The Guardian reveal that none of the articles mention aggregated spatial data, location based data, or give  an indication of using classic spatial analysis, despite quotes such as ““My idea … is to say to somebody, ‘Look, someone of your generation, living in this part of the country, ……” 

Even one of the few maps used in an article, “How long will you live? Official map shows your life expectancy – and you’ll get a letter when you retire telling you how long you’ve got left ” from the Daily Mail is a very rough map.  The lack of maps isn’t because spatial formats aren’t available. The Office of National Statistics uses the  data for it’s “Ageing in the UK Interactive Mapping Tool” and an interactive map of aging from 1992 -2033. There are some challenges that are outlined in a presentation on “Challenges for Official Statistics Population Ageing: An Overview” by the Population, Health, and Regional Directorate.  Several schools such as, The University of Sheffield Public Health has a GIS Unit which provides choropleth maps of life expectancy for the population of Sheffield.

A fun map of life expectancy in the UK is the historical data site of Life Expectancy Distribution Maps England & Wales – Deaths 1866 – 1920 or the Ancestry version of Deaths from 1837-1915.