Rising unemployment in London has been blamed in part for the seven-year variation in the average life expectancy of people born just eight Underground stations apart, a report claims.
The London Health Commission’s Health in London 2007 study found men living near Westminster Tube station live on average to almost their 78th birthday, while those living in Canning Town will on average die before they are 71.
A number of persistent health inequalities are responsible, including levels of unemployment and quality of jobs, housing and living conditions, educational attainment at GCSE, crime rates, air quality and road traffic casualty rates, the report said.
In June 2006, 7.9% of economically active Londoners were out of work, compared with 5.5% in the UK overall – a rise of 0.8% in London’s unemployment over the previous year.
The report, released this week, commented: “Unemployment is a key measure of labour market disadvantage and is closely associated with poverty, poor educational attainment and poor health.
“It is also associated with morbidity, injuries, poisoning and premature mortality, especially coronary heart disease, and is related to depression, anxiety, self-harm and suicide.”
The study also found that unemployment among black, Asian and minority ethnic communities living in the capital is twice the rate of white Londoners, with 11.8% and 5.4% rates respectively.
Analysis of longer-term trend data (1985-2005) suggests the gap in unemployment between these two groups has persisted, despite the increase in the general level of employment.
The report calls for action to tackle the wide-ranging health variations in the capital – and recommendations from the Tower Hamlets Primary Care Trust, Greater London Authority and London Health Commission will be put to Mayor Ken Livingstone after a seminar on the subject this week.