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Study Reveals UK's Cost-of-Living Crisis May Lead to Higher Premature Mortality


A study published in the open-access journal BMJ Public Health has indicated that the current cost-of-living crisis in the UK, driven by inflation, is expected to have serious consequences, including potentially shortening lives and widening wealth-health disparities.

Modeling conducted for the study suggests that there could be an increase of nearly 6.5 percent in the proportion of people dying prematurely (before the age of 75) due to the prolonged period of high prices.

The research predicts that the most economically deprived households will experience four times the number of additional deaths compared to the wealthiest households. This is attributed to the fact that the poorest households are forced to allocate a larger portion of their income to cover rising energy costs.

The study focused on the impact of inflation on death rates in Scotland during 2022-2023, both with and without mitigating measures like government support to reduce household expenses. The data collected was then used to model various potential scenarios for life expectancy and inequalities across the entire UK if different mitigating policies were put in place.

The modeling results suggest that without any mitigation, inflation could lead to a five percent increase in deaths in the least deprived areas and a 23 percent increase in the most deprived areas. With mitigation, these figures decrease to two percent and eight percent, respectively, resulting in an overall impact of approximately 6.5 percent.

The study also indicates that life expectancy would decrease in all scenarios.

The researchers emphasize the importance of understanding the connection between the economy and public health, highlighting that the mortality effects of inflation and reductions in real income are expected to be significant and adverse, with pronounced disparities in how different groups experience these effects.

The study concludes that current public policy responses may not be sufficient to safeguard public health and prevent the widening of health inequalities.

Although UK inflation unexpectedly slowed to 6.7 percent in August from its peak of 11.1 percent, it remains the highest among G7 nations. Factors contributing to this inflation include COVID-19 lockdowns, Brexit, and the conflict in Ukraine.