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Briefing Notes

Briefing Note 17 - How big is the life expectancy gap by social class?

The government has ruled out raising state pension age (SPA), stating the disproportionate effect it could have on people in groups more likely to have lower life expectancies. It is often reported that the life expectancy of the average male unskilled manual worker (Social Class V) is 71 years, while the life expectancy of the average professional (Social Class I) is 79.

This Briefing Note explains the life expectancy gap in terms of birth vs life, and period vs cohort basis. It finds that there is a gradient in longevity by Social Class. Professional people live longer than manual workers. This has to be taken into account in any consideration of raising SPA. However life expectancies for all socioeconomic groups are usually understated. 

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