Covid blamed as male life expectancy in Wigan falls for the first time

Life expectancy for men in Wigan has fallen – while at the same time rising slightly for women.

The trend broadly reflects the UK picture where life expectancy for males has dropped for the first time since current records began.

Statisticians have blamed the impact of the pandemic, but said the figures do not necessarily mean those born in recent years will go on to live a shorter life.

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Office for National Statistics data shows that in Wigan, a boy born between 2018 and 2020 is expected to live until they are 77.5 years old, down from 77.8 in 2015-17.

The trend broadly reflects the UK picture
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The North West average is now 77.9 years.

Meanwhile, life expectancy from birth for Wigan females rose from 80.9 to 81.2 between the two periods.

This compares with the regional average of 81.8 years - a small rise on the previous year.

Across the UK, a baby boy born in 2018-20 is expected to live until he is 79, down from 79.2 for the 2015-17 period, while a girl born in 2018-20 is estimated to live for 82.9 years, the same as in 2015-17.

The figures reflect the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, which led to a greater number of deaths than usual last year, the ONS said.

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Pamela Cobb, of the ONS centre for ageing and demography, said: “Life expectancy has increased in the UK over the last 40 years, albeit at a slower pace in the last decade.

“However, the coronavirus pandemic led to a greater number of deaths than normal in 2020.

“Consequently, in the latest estimates, we see virtually no improvement in life expectancy for women, while for men life expectancy has fallen back to levels reported for 2012 to 2014.

“This is the first time we have seen a decline when comparing non-overlapping time periods since the series began in the early 1980s.”

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The ONS also said the figures did not necessarily mean a baby born between 2018 and 2020 will live a shorter life, with the estimates based on the “unusually high” levels of deaths.

“Once the coronavirus pandemic has ended and its consequences for future mortality are known, it is possible that life expectancy will return to an improving trend in the future,” Ms Cobb added.

Across the UK, changes in life expectancy varied widely between regions.

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