People living in socially disadvantaged areas and outside major cities are much more likely to die prematurely, our new research shows. The study, published in the journal Australian Population Studies, reveals this gap has widened significantly in recent years, largely because rates of premature death among the least advantaged Australians have stopped improving.
These inequalities were already evident long before the enormous economic and social impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. While Australia (unlike the United States and some European nations) has so far avoided widespread deaths due directly to COVID-19, there may well be longer-term health impacts of the pandemic caused by widespread job losses and societal disruption, particularly among the most vulnerable.
This could well have a flow-on effect in terms of poorer health behaviours and access to health care, leading to adverse health outcomes, including a higher risk of death. Indeed, studies predict the pandemic will exacerbate these existing health inequalities.
SOURCE: Tim Adair and Alan Lopez. “The poorest Australians are twice as likely to die before age 75 as the richest, and the gap is widening” The Conversation, May 26, 2020.
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