Death rate in most deprived areas double that of richest neighbourhoods

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People in the most deprived areas of England and Wales are dying at more than twice the rate of those in the most affluent places, new data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows.

The most deprived areas registered 55.1 deaths linked to Covid-19 per 100,000 people up to 17 April. The least deprived had a rate less than half of that, at 25.3 deaths per 100,000.

The ONS figures show the number of deaths in each “middle super output area”, which are neighbourhoods of around 8,000 to 9,000 people spread across the country. These deaths can be compared with separate figures showing how deprived (or not) those neighbourhoods are. Deprivation scores account for income, employment rates, local education levels, crime rates, access to housing and the state of the living environment.

The pattern is clear when we split the neighbourhoods into 10 equal sized groups, where 1 is the most deprived and 10 the least deprived.

There are two caveats to the data. The first is that people in poorer areas have always been more likely to die, of all causes, but with Covid-19, the gap between rich and poor appears to be wider than normal. 

The second is that correlation doesn’t necessarily imply causation: being poor doesn’t directly cause you to die of Covid-19, or make you more likely to catch it. Rather, there are likely to be other factors that contribute to both poverty and to susceptibility to disease.

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