Young and middle-aged men are faring particularly badly

Across a range of outcomes in deaths, health and health service use young to middle aged men, especially those living in deprived areas, stand out as a group which warrant particular concern.

Key points:

  • Young and middle aged, socioeconomically deprived men are also most likely to suffer deaths of despair (suicide, drug, or alcohol related deaths) and the exponential rise in drug deaths has largely been concentrated among men.
  • Men are more likely to experience multiple overlapping social disadvantages associated with premature mortality. Of those experiencing homelessness, opioid dependency, custodial or community justice involvement, or psychosis, 65% are male.
  • Young and middle-aged men are most likely to miss outpatient appointments, indicating barriers to health services. The proportion of appointments where the patient ‘Did Not Attend’ is three times higher in the most deprived fifth of areas compared to the least.
  • The culmination of these factors, and others, is that healthy life expectancy – the average age that we would expect babies born now to reach whilst still in a state of ‘good’ general health – fell by almost five years, between 2015 and 2020, to just 45 years for men living in the most deprived tenth of areas. This decline is not mirrored in the least deprived areas where male healthy life expectancy has been maintained at 70. 
  • For some young and middle-aged men, we may be witnessing the cumulative effects of: social disadvantage transferred across generations; limited educational and employment opportunities; and social and cultural barriers to utilising health services. Different cohorts have different experiences across their lifetime. For example, drug-deaths are especially high in men born between the mid-1960s and mid-1980s.
  • Attention on the underpinning social determinants that influence these wide-ranging health outcomes is needed.

Related Graphs

Healthy life expectancy for male babies has declined and is now 24 years shorter in the most deprived areas compared to the least


Absolute inequalities in avoidable mortality in males were falling during the 2000s, but have started to increase


DNAs have fallen slightly over the past five years, but they remain far higher in the most deprived areas