Unfortunately, your browser is too old to work on this website. Please upgrade your browser
Skip to main content

Key points

  • A local area’s employment rate is related to how long people are likely to live (life expectancy) and how many years they can expect to live in good health (healthy life expectancy).

  • In places with higher economic inactivity, people are more likely to have a lower healthy life expectancy.

This chart shows the connection between healthy life expectancy (how many years a person can expect to live in good health) and a local area’s employment and economic inactivity rates by gender. 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 middle 60% or the least deprived (top) 20%.

Both employment and economic inactivity levels are related to healthy life expectancy for both men and women.

People who live in areas with high employment rates are more likely to live longer. And, there is a positive correlation between an area’s employment rates and both men’s and women’s healthy life expectancy.

Conversely, the healthy life expectancy of both men and women is negatively affected by economic inactivity. People living in an area with higher economic inactivity are more likely to have a lower healthy life expectancy.

This suggests there is some association at an area level between health and employment. This relationship can go both ways: unemployment can harm health, and poor health makes it harder to find or sustain employment.

It is worth noting that the most deprived areas, despite having employment rates around the median, have below-average health outcomes. This suggests other factors play a significant role in shaping health outcomes as well as employment.

Health and employment vary significantly between local areas in the UK. Policies that improve health could potentially increase employment rates, while policies to boost access to – and the availability of – good-quality work could also contribute to better health outcomes.

All data are for the 3-year period between 2018 and 2020 and are measured at the level of upper tier local authorities in England, which are the level of counties, London boroughs, unitary authorities and metropolitan districts.

Source: ONS, Unemployment and underemployment statistics; Labour Force Survey, unemployment data, 2022.

Related analysis

Explore the topics

Local authority dashboard
Explore data for your local authority and neighbourhood

Health inequalities

Money and resources
Poverty | Income | Debt

Quality | Unemployment | Security

Affordability | Quality | Stability | Security

Active travel | Social exclusion | Trends

Family, friends and community
Personal relationships | Community cohesion

Our surroundings
Pollution | Green space | Safety | Amenities

Coming soon

This is part of Evidence hub: What drives health inequalities?

Data, insights and analysis exploring how the circumstances in which we live shape our health
Kjell-bubble-diagramArtboard 101 copy

Get social

Follow us on Twitter
Kjell-bubble-diagramArtboard 101

Work with us

We look for talented and passionate individuals as everyone at the Health Foundation has an important role to play.

View current vacancies
Artboard 101 copy 2

The Q community

Q is an initiative connecting people with improvement expertise across the UK.

Find out more