Women spend more of their life with a disability than menBMJ 2014; 348 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.g2471 (Published 31 March 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g2471
Women on average live longer than men but spend more of their life with a disability, latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show.1
The analysis, using data from the 2011 census, also shows that people living in clinical commissioning groups in the north of England live more years with a disability compared with those living in the south of England.
Disability free life expectancy is a useful measure for health and social care resource planning. Respondents were classified as having a disability if they responded yes to a question that asked if their day to day activities were limited, either a little or a lot, by a disability or health problem.
The statistics show that on average women are expected to live longer than men but spend a greater proportion of their life with disability. Men at birth living in England can expect to live 80.9% of their life free from disability, whereas for women it is 78.4% of their lives. At age 65 the proportion of remaining life spent disability free is less than half for both men and women at 47.3% and 42.2% respectively.
The report shows an inequality in disability free life expectancy between the north and the south of England. Those living in the north of England are expected to live a larger proportion of their lives with disability as they, on average, have a shorter life expectancy compared with those living in the south of the country.
For example, a woman living in Surrey Downs has a life expectancy at birth of 85.1 years and a disability free life expectancy of 70.8 years. This compares with a women living in Bradford who has a life expectancy at birth of 78.6 years and a disability free life expectancy of 54.8 years.
Similar differences are seen with men. A man living in NHS Guildford and Waverly has a life expectancy of 82.2 years and a disability free life expectancy of 70.2 years. This compares with a man living in NHS North Manchester who has a life expectancy of 73.5 and a disability free life expectancy of 55.1 years.
Even within the south there are large differences. For example, men and women living in NHS Tower Hamlets have an 8.1 and 9.2 year difference in disability free life expectancy compared with those in nearby NHS Richmond.
Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g2471