Life expectancy in Norfolk

It has been concluded that with each stop on the District Line towards East London, life expectancy of the local inhabitants decreases by a year. As alarming as that sounds, according to a recent report compiled for Norfolk County Council, there currently exists a tremendous difference in life expectancies amongst people living in Norfolk, based on where they live.

The life expectancy of men in South Norfolk is 14 years greater than those in Great Yarmouth. Similarly, that of women in Broadland is 14 years greater than those in West Norfolk.

This begs for the question to be answered: why does life expectancy vary so drastically?

A probable answer to this would be the socio-economic factors that affect the lives of the people.

It should be noted that the number of unemployed people is far greater in Great Yarmouth than in South Norfolk, and in West Norfolk than in Broadland. The rate of unemployment is a likely contributor to this trend, as being unemployed can affect one’s physical health. It can lead to loss of fitness, depression, anxiety, cardiovascular illnesses, and financial problems that can possibly inhibit one from visiting the doctor and more.

Moreover, a study has found that hypertension is the third leading cause of death and disability in the area, which can be connected to the higher risk of cardiovascular illnesses and depression associated with unemployment. Furthermore, people who are unemployed tend to consume more alcohol, smoke more and take more sexual risks, all of which impact their health.

Certainly, there are a multitude of other factors contributing to this trend. Cancer has been named the leading cause of death in Norfolk, however Dementia is the leading cause of death in women of Norfolk. Tangible steps do need to be taken by the population to reduce this radical gap, possibly by conducting studies to establish the primary reason for this trend and then taking further measures.

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Swetha Natarajan

March 2021
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