Sudden death for Scotland?

Veröffentlicht: Juni 9, 2011 in Uncategorized

No, this is not about the performance of the Scottish football team – although the headline may be appropriate there as well! Rather, I came across a hugely interesting graphic on the Guardian website today; the distribution of life expectancy in the UK   (

It clearly shows what will happen to you if you live in Scotland, Wales, or the (post)-industrial North of England: on average you will die earlier than if you live in England. And the poor sods who live Glasgow or the Western Isles have drawn an even shorter straw: they will pack it in even earlier! Of course, all this only applies, if you are a man – as a woman you have a higher life expectancy more or less everywhere in the UK.

Now this is what we call the North-South divide in the English language classroom, the fact that most socio-economic factors point towards better living conditions in the South of England than in the North or in Wales and Scotland. What I find interesting about the map is that it gives an insight into the accumulated results of how the living conditions affect your life: live in poorer circumstances and you die earlier!

There are many reasons that are being cited for the North-South divide:

  • the economic argument: people in the South have more disposable income than people in the North and consequently are able to afford better, more comfortable, healthier lives.
  • the education argument: people in the South are better educated and know better how to lead a healthy life, they eat better, are less likely to be obese, to drink to excess, they are able to control their emotions better.
  • the job argument: Southerners are more likely to work in well-paid jobs in the service industry, p.e. in the financial sector, than people in the North, where these industries do not exist to the same extent. Production jobs in the industry have more or less disappeared all over the UK, so Northerners are often restricted to less secure, less well paid employment.
  • the gender argument: Because the North-South divide in life expectancy only applies to men, one could argue that men don’t know how to look after themselves, and the more Northern they come the more inept the become. It kind of boils down to the questionable: „Aren’t men stupid!“
  • the city argument: life expectancy is reduced in cities in the South(look at Bristol, parts of London, Birmingham etc.) as well as all over the North. So city life kills, if you are a man, because of increased poverty, crime, drug and alcohol abuse – some of the things that are less prevalent in the country.

I am not a sociologist, so I could not say which of the arguments merits the most credit. I do wonder though, whether similar results could be found in Germany and whether a possible divide would be north/south or east/west or follow different criteria altogether. Any thoughts on that?


No? I thought not…


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