Aptly, given today is St George’s Day, the village named after England’s patron saint topped a league table dominated by the south of England, with Talybont (Merionethshire, Gwynedd), the only town outside the south to figure in the top 15 highest life expectancies (see table at bottom of story). Hinton St George narrowly edged out Aldeburgh in Suffolk, whose life expectancy when rounded up to one decimal point is the same.
Based on mortality rates among people receiving occupational pensions, the research indicates that residents of Bootle on Merseyside are expected to die at a younger average age than people anywhere else in the UK.
After Bootle, postal towns in Northern Ireland and Scotland dominate the bottom 15 places for average life expectancy, with Salford (ranked 14th lowest life expectancy), the only other town outside Scotland and Northern Ireland to figure.
According to Towers Watson’s research, in Hinton St George, a male pension scheme member retiring at 65 with a pension size and industry background typical of the UK as a whole could expect to live for an average of 88.7 years, and a woman to 91.6 years. In Bootle, the figures are 84.9 years and 89 years respectively.
Matthew Fletcher, a senior consultant at Towers Watson, said: ‘Where people live can be a powerful predictor of how long they will live. Of course, this does not mean that a man could extend his life by four years simply by moving from Merseyside to Somerset.
‘Instead, a pensioner's address provides clues to other things linked to life expectancy, like their lifestyle and how much money they have from sources besides their pension.
He explained that studying scheme members’ postcodes could help pension schemes and their trustees work out how much money to put aside to fund pension commitments or how much they should be prepared to pay an insurer to take this responsibility over.
‘Insurers also look at addresses when quoting annuity prices to individual savers, alongside information specific to the customer such as any health conditions and whether they smoke,’ he said.
In its research, Towers Watson looked at the recent mortality experience of 51 defined benefit pension schemes. It examined how the change of dying at each age varies between clusters of postcodes where residents have similar characteristics.
Its research shows how life expectancy can differ by two or three years when comparing areas within towns, or even neighbouring streets. To produce its league tables, Towers Watson used the mix of postcodes in each of 1,446 postal towns to come up with an average overall life expectancy.
These were then ranked after adjustment for differences in pension size and occupational background. Mr Fletcher said without these adjustments, differences in life expectancy between affluent and poor areas would appear more dramatic.
‘Pension schemes already know how big their members' pensions are and what jobs they did. The practical value of a postcode analysis comes from the additional insights it can provide,’ he added.
TOP 15 UK POSTAL TOWNS BY LIFE EXPECTANCY AT AGE 65
Male average age first, female second.
1. HINTON ST GEORGE (Somerset) 88.7 91.6
2. ALDEBURGH (Suffolk) 88.7 91.6
3. FRINTON-ON-SEA (Essex) 88.5 91.8
4. SEAVIEW (Isle of Wight) 88.5 91.5
5. FERNDOWN (Dorset) 88.4 91.5
6. LYME REGIS (Dorset) 88.4 91.5
7. SALCOMBE (Devon) 88.4 91.4
8. BROADSTONE (Dorset) 88.5 91.3
9. BUDLEIGH SALTERTON (Devon) 88.4 91.3
10. BEMBRIDGE (Isle of Wight) 88.4 91.4
11. TALYBONT (near Barmouth, Merionethshire, Gwynedd) 88.3 91.4
12. SIDMOUTH (Devon) 88.3 91.4
13. STANMORE (Middlesex) 88.5 91.2
14. POLEGATE (Sussex) 88.3 91.4
15. WINCHELSEA (Sussex) 88.2 91.4
BOTTOM 15 UK POSTAL TOWNS BY LIFE EXPECTANCY AT AGE 65
Male average age first, female second.
1. BOOTLE (Merseyside) 84.9 89.0
2. CASTLEDERG (County Tyrone) 85.0 89.1
3. STRABANE (County Tyrone) 85.1 89.1
4. BELFAST 85.3 89.0
5. SALTCOATS (Ayrshire) 85.4 89.0
6. LONDONDERRY 85.3 89.1
7. PRESTONPANS (East Lothian) 85.3 89.2
8. PORT GLASGOW (Invercylde) 85.4 89.2
9. KILBIRNIE (Ayrshire) 85.4 89.2
10. ALLOA (Clackmannanshire) 85.4 89.2
11. ARDROSSAN (Ayrshire) 85.4 89.1
12. LOCHGELLY (Fife) 85.3 89.2
13. BELLSHILL (Lanarkshire) 85.4 89.1
14. SALFORD 85.4 89.2
15. STEVENSTON (Ayrshire) 85.4 89.3