Institute of Epidemiology & Health Care


What is the impact over time of the mortality of migrants on national life expectancy at birth...

Lucinda Hiam, Rachel Burns, Claire Zhang, Danny Dorling and Ben Goodair, University of Oxford, Matthew Wallace, University of Stockholm, Robert Aldridge, Washington and Martin McKee, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

Period life expectancy at birth is a widely used indicator of population health. In the past decade, previous improvements in life expectancy in the UK have stalled and, for some groups, fallen. During the COVID-19 pandemic life expectancy fell by 1.3 years and 0.9 years in 2020 for males and females, respectively (Public Health England 2021).

Existing explanations for recent trends include the impact of austerity measures and reduction in improvements from CVD mortality (Murphy M 2019, Hiam, Dorling et al. 2020). One area that has yet to be examined in the UK is the impact of changes in the composition of the population through migration. Research in other high-income countries (HICs) has shown that migrants, with lower mortality rates, have positively impacted reported national life expectancy (Page, Begg et al. 2007, Preston and Elo 2014, Hendi and Ho 2021, Wallace M, Thomas M et al. 2021). This is especially relevant to the UK, where almost 14% of the population are migrants (ONS 2021). However, a combination of Brexit and the impact of the pandemic has meant that migration patterns are changing. In these new circumstances, it is important to understand how migration has impacted life expectancy in the past and how it might do so in the future. Therefore, using the ONS Longitudinal Study, the purpose of this research is to examine whether life expectancy gains that have been seen in the USA owing to the higher life expectancy of migrants (Hendi and Ho 2021) could also be true in the UK.

This provides significant public good by helping to understand population health trends.

The research project is part of a DPhil in health outcomes in the UK, with predicted publication in a peer-reviewed journal.