Northern Ireland

Premature death

Graphs on this page:

Supporting information:

Key points

  • The rate of premature death in Northern Ireland has declined by 15% over the last decade, from 230 deaths per 100,000 people in 1999 to 195 per 100,000 in 2009.
  • These rates equate to around 3,000 premature deaths each year (a number that has remained fairly steady throughout the period as the size of the underlying population has been growing).
  • Both the rate, and the trend it has followed, are broadly similar to those for Great Britain.
  • Around 30% of the premature deaths in Northern Ireland are due to cancers, 20% to circulatory diseases and a further 30% to other internal causes.  The remainder – 20% – are due to external causes.
  • There is great variation in the rate of premature death within Northern Ireland by social class.  The rate for intermediate occupations is almost twice as high as that for managerial and professional groups, the rate for manual and routine occupations is more than twice as high and the rate for those who have never worked or are long term unemployed is three times as high.

Definitions and data sources

This indicator looks at the rate of premature death, defined here as death before the age of 65. The main justification for including it is to show how far premature death rates differ by social class.

The first graph shows, over time, the number of deaths of people aged under 65 per 100,000 population, with the data standardised to a constant European age structure. For comparison purposes, the equivalent data for Great Britain is also shown.

The second graph shows the rate of deaths of people aged under 65 by social class. The data is not standardised by age. To improve its statistical reliability, the data is the average for the latest five years.

In both graphs, the number of deaths is divided into four groups of cause, namely circulatory diseases (including heart disease), neoplasms/cancers, other internal causes (respiratory, digestive, etc) and external causes (accidents, suicides, assaults, etc).

The source for the Northern Ireland data in both graphs is the Department of Finance and Personnel, noting that the data in the second graph is not publicly available. The source for the Great Britain data in the first graph is the General Register Office for Scotland and Mortality Statistics Division, ONS for England and Wales (again the data is not publicly available).

Overall adequacy of this indicator: medium. All the data in the first graph is both factual and comparable but comes from different sources.

External links

See the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety’s site on health inequalities.