Ask yourself this: why do we care so little that we cannot even be bothered to analyse and interrogate our own mortality statistics properly?by Danny Dorling / July 4, 2019 / Leave a comment
When the UK’s annual mid-year population estimates were released in late June 2019, much of the media coverage focused on the fact that the population had risen, but growth rates had stalled. The Express newspaper reported that the total population rise of just under 400,000 in the year to mid-2018 was still fuelled by immigration, and that: “The surge is the equivalent of adding a city the size of Coventry to the country.”
But what reporting on this data missed were the 623,000 deaths in the year to mid-2018. This was 20,000 more than the previous year—a 3 per cent increase. That is startling because it continues a rise in mortality that began with the first significant fall in UK life expectancy in 2014 and means that UK life expectancy will still be lower today than it was then, five long years ago.
The mid-year population estimates also reveal by how much the population has aged, and that the rise in mortality is not due to ageing. As mortality rates for almost all age groups have risen, for both men and women, overall life expectancy will have fallen yet again.
When, in August 2018, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) compared the UK with 19 other countries, mostly in Europe, but also including the US and Japan, it found that only the UK had seen such a large fall in life expectancy since 2014, for both men and women. We now know that has continued through to at least the end of the summer of 2018.
Digging into the data
The fact that nobody appears to have noticed is largely due to the volume of data journalists needed to sift through to find this out and because the ONS didn’t point them towards the significance of continued mortality rises in its press release.
Anyone who wants to know what has actually happened most recently to mortality rates in the UK has to download a huge dataset from the ONS website titled: “MYBE2_detailed components of change series.”
The data is very detailed. For instance, it shows that in Coventry more men aged 86, 87, 88, 89 and 90+ died in the year to mid-2018 than the year before. The spreadsheet also revealed,…