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UK industrial regions have poor 'old age survival' rates, European study finds

Parts of the UK have poor "old age survival" compared with other European countries, a study suggests.

People can expect to live to a ripe old age in northern Spain, north-eastern Italy and in southern and western France, but not so much in parts of the UK and regions of the Netherlands and Scandinavia, the figures show.

The researchers found "clear and stubborn inequalities" across Europe, they said.

They examined 10-year survival rates in people aged 75 to 84 in 4,404 small areas from 18 countries in Europe.

Their study, published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, measured survival rates for more than 300 million people across two periods: 1991-2001 and 2001-2011.

On average, in 2001, 27% of men aged 75-84 had survived 10 years to reach 85-94, whereas among women the survival rate was 40%.

By 2011 survival rates had increased significantly to 34% among men, and to 47% among women.

The researchers found that higher survival rates were concentrated in northern Spain, Andorra and north-eastern Italy, and in the south and west of France.

Lower survival was found in parts of the UK, Scandinavia and the Netherlands, and in some areas of southern Europe.

They said low survival rates were mostly found in the industrial regions of the UK - Glasgow, Manchester and Liverpool - and in the London region.

The researchers also assessed the proportion of the population living in areas of high and low "old age survival".

In the UK in 2011, 18% of the female population and almost 7% of the male population were living in areas of low old age survival.

The authors conclude: "It is most likely that the observed patterns arise from a combination of two kinds of health determinants: poverty, which explains the low longevity found in areas like Portugal, southern Spain, southern Italy and post-industrial areas; and unhealthy lifestyles (eg, tobacco, diet), which might explain the presence of areas of low survival in affluent areas of Scandinavia or the Netherlands."

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