Physical and mental health

Physical and mental health have close links to poverty. People on lower incomes are more likely to experience poor physical and mental health.

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Link to source: Understanding Society

People on lower incomes tend to have worse physical health than those in richer groups.

Physical health is measured based on a series of questions which are combined to give an individual a score between 0 and 100; a higher score indicates better physical health. People living on low incomes have a lower average score than those on higher incomes. There has been very little change in physical health since 2010 to 2011. The scores across all income groups, and the gaps between them, have remained very similar.

There is very little difference between those in the poorest fifth and second poorest fifth, suggesting that some other factor is affecting these results, such as the average age of those in each group.

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Children from less well-off families are more likely to indicate that they have either a moderate or severe mental health condition.

The sample sizes are small, meaning it is difficult to fully examine the differences between children in households with different levels of income. In 2015 to 2016, around a quarter of children in both the poorest and second poorest fifth of the population indicated they experienced either moderate or severe mental health conditions, compared with 19% for children from the richest fifth.

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Links to sources: England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland

The lifelong association between health and poverty culminates in large differences in the healthy life expectancy of those with different incomes. 

Overall, people living in more deprived areas have a lower healthy life expectancy than those in less deprived areas. The difference between the latest healthy life expectancies in the least and most deprived fifth of areas was highest for men in Scotland, at 18 years, but in all parts of the UK it was more than 12 years for both men and women.

Data limitations mean that these are measured according to the level of deprivation of the area people live in, rather than their household income. Comparisons between the countries of the UK should be treated with caution since each has its own Index of Multiple Deprivation, which is based on relative deprivation within that country rather than compared across the UK.