Sputnik: There has been a “profoundly concerning” rise in early deaths from accidents, suicide, alcohol misuse, smoking, cancer and drug addiction in the north of England, deepening the north-south divide. Can you tell me a bit about the significance of this story?
Evangelos Kontopantelis: In various work we saw that there was this divide, remember this is about young adults so aged 25 to 44, so we’re talking about ages where they should be productive and active in the communities and the numbers should be small. There shouldn’t be any difference between the north and the south but in previous work we have found there is a gap that has been increasing since the 1990. We can only hypothesize but it might be down to factories and what happened before that and that has increased the gap after austerity imposed from 2010 onwards. What has emerged is a gap in death between the north and the south, so we see many more deaths occurring in the north than the south. That was from previous work, what we did here was we tried to quantify the deaths and the reasons to why this gap is there and what the primary causes of death for these people.
Evangelos Kontopantelis: Like I said it goes back to 1990 so we can’t solely put the blame on austerity but the reasons behind this are drug abuse, alcohol abuse, suicide… these are all socio-economic driven so in our models we saw that two thirds of the deaths were explained by measured deprivation and the other one third might be unmeasured or cultural factors so it’s all socio-economic driven. We haven’t looked at austerity per say but obviously austerity and deprivations go hand in hand, so I would be very surprised if it didn’t have any play in this.
Sputnik: Some of these findings are deeply disturbing; what should we be seeing from the government?
Evangelos Kontopantelis: I don’t think it’s a simply issue, we are talking about the whole population with diverse regions, but the underlying cause is that disparity in investment between the north and the south and what happened to this country between 1980 and 1990. We’ve seen London become this global center of finance and investment and besides some small pockets in the north like Manchester, every other region seems to be just lingering on in a deprived state of post-industrialism. It’s very complicated but we need more investment in the north and more attention paid by the London based government.The views expressed in this article are those of the speaker, and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.