How healthy do you think you are?

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  • Author: Chris White and Statistics Views
  • Date: 12 November 2013
  • Copyright: Images appears courtesy of iStock Photo and Offfice for National Statistics

The Office for National Statistics has released statistics on health gaps by socio-economic position of occupations in England and England, derived from the 2011 census (ONS release, 8th November 2013).

Health gaps, which are here represented as the differences in health experienced between all groups, based on occupational class are large and widespread throughout England and Wales. There is a North-South divide in ‘Not Good’ health rates; rates were generally higher in the North for all socio-economic classes grouped by their occupation.

Men and women in the least advantaged ‘routine’ occupations have the highest rates of ‘Not Good’ health in every English region and Wales (while the most advantaged ‘higher managerial and professional’ occupations have the lowest rates), although some cross over is observed between local authorities.

The regional health gap between classes is mostly larger for women, except for London where it is comparable to men, and the South East where it is larger for men.

thumbnail image: How healthy do you think you are?

The analysis uses seven occupational groupings as illustrated below in the National Statistics Socio-economic Classification (NS-SEC) derived from questions asked in the 2011 Census.

‘Not Good’ general health was derived from those assessing their general health as either ‘Fair’, ‘Bad’ or ‘Very Bad’ to the general health question in the 2011 Census. The ‘Not Good’ health rates in this summary are age standardised to the European standard population 2013. Age standardisation allows geographies, sexes or occupational classes with differing age structures to be compared.

Islington had the largest health gap in rates of ‘Not Good’ health between occupational classes for both men and women; a difference of 33.3 and 31.4 percentage points respectively.

It is estimated that an additional 1.6 million men and 1.8 million women would be assessing their health as ‘Good’ if they had the same self-assessed health rates as those in the most advantaged occupations such as lawyers and medical doctors.

There is far more variation in the rates of ‘Not Good’ health in the most socio-economically disadvantaged classes across regions and local authorities; the size of the health gap within areas is mostly driven by the rates in these classes.

The local authorities with the largest health gaps are generally found in large population centres, such as inner London.

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