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UK one of the worst for life expectancy rises among developed countries

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
File photo shows British pensioners.

The UK has experienced one of the largest slowdowns in life expectancy growth among 20 of the world’s leading economies, according to official figures by Britain’s Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The ONS figures show that from 2006 to 2011, life expectancy at birth of females in Britain rose by 12.9 weeks per year, but between 2011 and 2016 the rate of increase was 1.2 weeks per year, a decline of 90 percent and more than in any other country analyzed.

It added that Britain was only second worst behind the United States when the same rate was estimated for men.

The report reiterated that many countries have seen a slow-down in life expectancy rise from 2011, except for Japan and some in Scandinavia, adding that Britain was the worst among the leading economies.

Some academics argue that austerity policies by the UK government, including cuts in social care budgets, have played a part.

However, the government has denied there is any proven link and has rejected calls for an enquiry.  

Reports have suggested that achievements that helped boost life expectancy in Britain, like reducing smoking rates and improved treatment of infectious illnesses and conditions such as heart disease, have been undermined over the past years.

The ONS analysis said a significant increase in male life expectancy between 2001 and 2011 negatively affected the similar rate among women.

Sir Steve Webb, former Liberal Democrat Pensions Minister and director of policy at the insurance provider Royal London, said the government had to do more to understand the reasons for the drop in life expectancy rise.

“The UK has slumped from being one of the strongest performers when it comes to improving life expectancy to bottom of the league,” said Webb, adding “There is a real human cost behind these statistics and we urgently need to understand more about why this is happening.”

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