• There is a positive correlation between the employment rate of local areas and both life expectancy and healthy life expectancy. 

  • The relationship between employment and health is stronger for healthy life expectancy than life expectancy. 

  • On average, for every 10 percentage points higher the employment rate, healthy life expectancy is around 5.1 years higher for men and 3.7 years higher for women. 

This chart shows the association between employment rates and life expectancy (how many years we can expect to live) and healthy life expectancy (how many of those years are spent in good health). Local areas are shown at the upper tier local authority level for England. Each chart highlights the local authority’s relative level of deprivation, whether in the most deprived bottom 20%, the next 30% or the top half. 

  • There is a clear relationship between employment and both life expectancy and healthy life expectancy. This does not control for any other factors and presents only the relationship between these two variables. 

  • The association is around the same for women and men – the pattern in employment ‘explains’ 37% and 36% of the variation in healthy life expectancy for men and women, respectively.  

  • The correlation also tends to be stronger for years of good health rather than total lifespan – that pattern in employment ‘explains’ 45% and 58% for men and women, respectively. 

  • An additional 10% of employment is associated with around a further 5.1 years of healthy life expectancy in this simple relationship for men and 3.7 years for women.

The chart reveals a clear pattern between employment and health, with the most deprived fifth of local areas experiencing both the worst health and employment outcomes. However, a significant share of 20–30% of the most deprived local areas have above typical rates of employment but less than typical health outcomes suggesting the impact of other factors.

There is significant variation in health and employment within and between local areas in the UK. Policies aimed at boosting employment can have an important and positive impact on health.

  • All data are for the 3-year period between 2017 and 2019 and is measured at the level of upper tier local authorities in England which are the level of counties, London boroughs, unitary authorities and metropolitan districts.  

  • Although previous academic work has delved deeper into questions of causation, these charts simply indicate the correlation between employment rates and health.


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Data, insights and analysis exploring how the circumstances in which we live shape our health