There is a clear north/south divide in England when it comes to life expectancy, according to a new study published in the British Medical Journal.
Researchers from the University of Manchester have compared death rates across the country over a 43-year period - from 1965 to 2008.
They have found that the difference in life expectancy is the widest it has been in 40 years.
In 1965, for example, people living in the north were 16 per cent more likely to die before the age of 75 when compared with their southern counterparts.
In 2008, that difference had risen to 20 per cent.
Professor Ian Buchan, who led the research programme, said that even people born into similar socio-economic circumstances in both regions had unequal survival rates.
He told the BBC: "There is strong evidence that the underlying causes of the divide, the 'causes of the causes' are social and economic."
On a smaller scale, he claimed that healthcare "gradients" were evident, with mortality dependent on an area's social and economic profile.
Recently, the Institute for Public Policy Research claimed that the coalition government's spending cuts will make the north/south divide worse.
1 Hacking, John; Muller, Sara; Buchan, Iain. "Trends in mortality from 1965 to 2008 across the English north-south divide: comparative observational study". British Medical Journal. Tuesday, February 15th 2011.
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