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Manual workers were 140% more likely to die than professionals during the boom

Rich or poor, life expectancy for all groups in Ireland is at an all time high – but the gap between those groups has increased.

NEW RESEARCH FINDS a huge gap in life expectancy developed among social groups between the 1980s and the 2000s.

Whereas death rates for male manual workers were 100% higher than among professional groups back in the 1980s, that disparity increased to 140% during the 2000s – according to the ESRI study.

While life expectancy has been improving for over half a century, it has been shown that the improvement wasn’t shared equally across social groups.

According to the authors, “whereas death rates among male professionals, managers and the self-employed decreased by 27% between the 1990s and 2000’s, those among male working class groups increased by 4%”.

Between 1950 and 2012 life expectancy in Ireland grew by 15 years on average, from 66 to 81 – as a result of improvements in living standards and the adoption of healthier lifestyles.

The rate of improvement, according to the study, increased around the year 2000. 

For example, between 1996 and 1999 death rates fell by 5%, but by 26% between 2000 and 2004. Irish research suggests that this improvement was due to improvements in the control of cardiovascular and respiratory conditions in the late 1990s among those aged 65+.

Regarding the widening disparity in the mid-2000s, the researchers said that the “growing gap across social groups largely reflects an increasing gap between non-manual and manual groups for deaths from external causes, digestive disease and cancers (in the case of women)”.

2012. The Bank That Bust The Country. The unfinish The abandoned planned headquarters of Anglo Irish Bank. Source: Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland

Previous research, the authors say, “suggests suicide among younger unemployed men and increasing death rates from industrial and farming accidents during the economic boom may be important”.

Forthcoming ESRI research will examine this.

The new study – carried out by the ESRI in collaboration with Trinity and NUI Maynooth – found that the death rate in the area with highest number of deaths “was four times that of the area with the lowest rate in 2011″.  

When comparison is confined to deaths among those aged under 75, the death rate in the geographic area with the highest rate is six times that of the area with the lowest rate.

More details on the study will be given at an ESRI conference later today.

“This is the first analysis of the way that differentials in mortality changed during the last three decades in Ireland, “ Professor Richard Layte of the ESRI and Trinity said.

“The good news is that life expectancy for all groups in Ireland is at an all time high. The bad news is that the gap between groups has increased. This project attempts to understand why and what we can do about it.”

Read: These ghostly photos show the buildings the Celtic Tiger abandoned 

Read: Klaus Regling has said the Irish were ‘obsessed’ with property

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