By Max Clarke

Increasing longevity since the 1980s has left the life expectancy of routine workers lagging further behind that of top managers and professionals, the Health Statistics Quarterly published on Monday by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has revealed. The life expectancy gap between men in the most and least advantaged social groups increased by a year despite overall improvement for all groups.

ONS researcher Brian Johnson said: “The greatest growth in life expectancy at birth for males between 1982-86 and 2002-2006 was experienced by those assigned to the Lower managerial and professional class, such as teachers and social workers, at 5.3 years. The least growth in life expectancy at birth was in the two least advantaged classes, Semi-routine and Routine occupations at 3.8 and 3.9 years respectively.”

Brian Johnson added: ”The analysis of the life expectancy figures did show that a clear social gradient persists over time with remarkable consistency with Higher managers and professionals estimated to have the highest life expectancy in most periods and the Routine class the lowest. In most periods the ranking of the classes by life expectancy was the same.“

The report also showed that women whose parents had a higher managerial occupation had a life expectancy of 83.9 years, compared with 79.7 years for those in the Routine socio-economic class. The difference in life expectancy between the Higher managerial and professional and the Routine class was consistently less for women than for men and no significant trend in inequalities could be discerned from the estimates for females, although the ranking of the classes remained almost unchanged throughout.