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This report investigates the possible benefits of retirement village life with respect to life expectancy.

'Does living in a retirement village extend life expectancy? The case of Whiteley Village'  investigates the possible benefits of retirement village life with respect to life expectancy i.e. whether Villagers live longer on average than the general population, using Whiteley Village as a case study. This joint report is produced by the International Longevity Centre - UK and Cass Business School.

The report shows that there is strong statistical evidence that female residents, in particular, receive a substantial boost to their longevity when compared to the wider population – at one point in time reaching close to five years.

Key findings also include:

  • There is statistically strong evidence that female residents entering Whiteley Village between ages 65 and 69 have received a substantial boost to their longevity when compared to the wider population.
  • In particular, living in Whiteley Village appears to have significantly improved the probability that a female resident survives beyond the median age of death of the wider population.
  • The extent of Whiteley’s longevity advantage has changed through time. It reached its highest level of 4.9 years in the 1960 cohort based on the median age to death for a woman entering the Village aged 67 when compared with a woman of the same age in England & Wales.
  • In 1970 and 1980 this advantage lessened, mainly due to the increase in life expectancy of the general population. However, this fails to take into account that Whiteley only accepts poorer pensioners who have shorter life expectancy on average, and who may not have had such substantial increases in life expectancy.
  • In fact, the median duration of a female entrant at age 67 in the 1980 cohort in Whiteley was between 2.7 and 3.3 years higher when compared to the poorest 20% of female 67 year olds in the wider population.
  • Furthermore, Whiteley appears to confer a longevity advantage on female residents equivalent to them coming from quintile 1 or 2 when we would have expected a life expectancy consistent with quintile.
  • While the report does not find sufficient statistical evidence that the male residents of Whiteley outlive their counterparts in the wider population, there is certainly evidence that the majority lived at least as long on average. In other words, being a resident in Whiteley seems to nullify the usual higher mortality rates experienced by members of the lower socioeconomic classes.
  • The only exception to the improvements in the expected mortality rates was for the shortestlived males. However, the report postulates that such males had made lifestyle choices (e.g. smoking) that had led to underlying health impairments which could not be fully mitigated by the benefits achieved through the social interaction and on-site health support provided by Whiteley.
  • The report concludes that retirement villages (or their equivalents) could help in the Government’s aim to reduce mortality inequalities experienced in lower socio-economic groups.

Baroness Sally Greengross OBE, Chief Executive, International Longevity Centre – UK said:

The dramatic increases in average life expectancies witnessed throughout the 20th and early 21st centuries is one of our society’s greatest achievements. However, this achievement has too often been overshadowed by the stark disparity in life expectancy between the highest and lowest socio-economic groups.

As the residential care sector continues to respond to the needs of our rapidly ageing society, I hope that policymakers and the social care sector can take heart in knowing that, whilst socio-economic inequalities in life expectancy sadly still exist, the right housing with care community might be able to ameliorate the effects of deprivation and address those inequalities in later life.

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