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  • HOPE not hate

The link between health inequality and resilience

A new report by the Institute of Health Inequality identifies a 6-point framework for health inequality (Executive Summary here). Pictured above, the framework is part of their effort to build health equality into the drive to level up.

The report reveals significant differences in health outcomes, including differences of 4-5 years in terms of life expectancy between the best off of the 10 GMCA authorities and the most deprived. Even more pronounced differences occur once you start to look at smaller geographical units.

Our Towns Index report last year identified clear correlations between hostility to migration and almost every sort of deprivation, including health inequality.

The chart above shows all of the towns in England. Those further to the right on the horizontal axis have higher scores for health inequality; those higher up on the vertical axis are more liberal when it comes to migration and multiculturalism. We can see a clear pattern, with places where health inequalities are most pronounced being the least liberal.

The second chart, meanwhile, shows the same thing but for Wales (which uses a different scale to measure health deprivation). The patterns at play are very similar, with the places where health deprivation is greatest being the least positive about change and difference.

This is not to say that health factors like obesity, alcohol consumption or mortality directly feed into community cohesion or support for diversity. And of course places with high levels of health deprivation are likely to also experience other economic and social challenges which our data shows weaken resilience.

But the strength of the data correlation between the two suggests a strong link. Places with significant health deprivation are likely to have fewer opportunities and worse life chances – factors which often fuel hostility to change and difference.

As the report’s focus on ‘building back fairer’ suggests, it is essential that the post-pandemic ‘levelling up’ process addresses root issues, rather than focusing only on infrastructure or on the creation one-off funding pots. To rebuild in the wake of the coronavirus, there needs to be a real focus on wellbeing, community resilience and the social fabric.


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