Postcode Mortality – Research on recent findings

Valerie Hartley

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I recently came across some bizarre yet interesting reading from a study carried out at end of last year which looked at geographical differences in mortality. The study looked at how mortality varied by postcode.

The study highlights the worst, or “shortest lived”, towns, and the best or “longest lived” towns. The differences are such that some of the shortest lived towns should probably carry a Government health warning!

The study, carried out by Towers Watson ranked localities across the UK. A score of ten, the UK average, means that actuaries expect ten in every thousand males aged 65 to die in the next 12 months. The higher the score, the more deaths expected. The study showed that the ten ‘shortest-lived’ towns are as follows:-

Town Mortality Rating
Kilbirnie, Ayrshire 15.4
Bootle, Merseyside 15.3
Lochgelly, Fife 15.3
Kyle, Ross-shire 15.1
Queenborough, Kent 15.1
Arisaig, Inverness-shire 14.8
Castlederg, Co Tyrone 14.8
Cumnock, Ayrshire 14.8
Mayport, Cumbria 14.8
Sanquar, Dumfriesshire 14.8

Kilbirnie, the least healthy place in the UK to live, has a mortality rating of 15.4%. Its population of approximately 8,000 people are served by no fewer than 3 firms of Funeral Directors!! This means that there are more firms of Funeral Directors than Banks or Grocery Stores in the town. Sorry to break this news to you, Kilbirnie residents!

What this means is that a 65 year old Kilbirnie male will live on average a further 17 years – 3 years fewer than the national average and 8 years fewer than people in postcode areas identified as the longest-lived postcodes; or to put it another way a male aged 65 living in Kilbirnie is more than twice as likely to die within the next 12 months than a person living in one of the healthier towns. Grim?

At the other end of the spectrum, the ten ‘longest-lived’ towns are as follows:-

Town Mortality Rating
Montacute, Somerset 6.4
Brockenhurst, Hampshire 6.7
Aldeburgh, Suffolk 6.8
Church Stretton, Shropshire 6.8
Colyton, Devon 6.9
Lyme Regis, Dorset 6.9
Lymington, Hampshire 6.9
Budleigh Salterton, Devon 7
Hinton St George, Somerset 7
Verwood, Dorset 7

If you take Montactute as an example, a male aged 65 can expect to live 25 more years! As unbelievable as it may seem, residents have been known to live in the town to a grand old age of 106! Whether this is a good thing or not, is a question for the residents of Montacute.

Obviously Kilbirnie, the place itself, is not the cause of these excess deaths. It’s clear that there are other factors which such as the populations general health & wellbeing, lifestyle, diet, perhaps education, occupation (stress) and wealth/poverty but to name a few.

Equally, there is nothing magical about a certain postcode that ensures longer life. However, the Mortality Map, does show a clear North-South split with people in Scotland and the industrial North East and North West of England tending to be shorter-lived, whereas people in East Anglia, the South East and South West, with exception of Cornwall, generally living longer.

Research suggests that mortality is linked to socio-economic factors rather than geography – the old industrial heartlands having a higher proportion of the population in “lower” socio-economic groups.

However the significance to individuals is that many pension providers, notably L&G, Aviva and Prudential, take into account postcode location when pricing annuities.

Therefore if you are a resident of Montacute looking to purchase an annuity you are going to get a much poorer deal than the average because of your postcode. Perhaps it’s time to check out a move to Kilbirnie in search of a better annuity rate!