Mortality trends in the UK

Why are improvements in life expectancy slowing down?

  • This project will critically review the literature and relevant data to understand better what is happening to life expectancy in the UK and the role of different possible contributory factors. The team will compare UK trends with international data and liaise with other agencies working in this area.
  • Led by Professor Mike Murphy from LSE in collaboration with Dr Veena Raleigh of The King’s Fund.
  • Interim findings will be available in November 2018 and a final report in April 2019.

There has been much debate in the literature and more widely about why improvements in mortality rates are slowing in England and Wales. This debate focuses on two broad areas: the higher than usual mortality during 2015; and the generally slower rates of improvement in life expectancy since 2011. Some attribute the changes to austerity-driven policies such as constraints on health and social care spending and cuts in welfare benefits, or to declining NHS performance, for example the number of delayed discharges from hospital. In some years, flu has played a role, particularly in excess deaths among older people, and others have noted that many European countries show similar patterns. There is a need for a comprehensive and critical review of the evidence to address these questions.

This research aims to understand better what is happening to mortality and life expectancy in the UK, and the role of different possible contributory factors.  It will involve:

  • a critical review of the literature, mortality and relevant non-mortality datasets,
  • exploration of the potential role of artefacts,
  • comparison of trends between the UK and comparator countries, and
  • liaison with relevant UK and European agencies in order to assess the respective roles of different causal factors.

Interim findings will be ready in November 2018 and the final report in April 2019.

Contact details

Professor Mike Murphy - m.murphy@lse.ac.uk

Louise Marshall - louise.marshall@health.org.uk

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