Researchers found people who live rough are likely to die more than 30 years earlier than the average British person.
According to new figures homeless people will die in their 40s – men on average at 47 while women have a life expectancy of 43.
The homeless life expectancy rate compares to that in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, central Africa. In stark contrast, the average age of death for the general population in Britain currently is 77 years.
I\’ve no doubt that is true: with a certain caveat.
What they\’ve found is that the average age of death of those living rough is 47 and 43.
Which isn\’t the same at all as saying that living rough makes you die at those ages. For people move in and out of living rough. So what has been selected for is those who die while living rough…..who do indeed die at 47 and 43 on average.
You might think this is a trivial distinction but it isn\’t. By definition the measurement is of those who have died while living rough, not a measure of what living rough for some period of time, long or short, does to life span.
So it\’s not a great number to use in the first place. But here\’s how it will be abused:
Separate figures, meanwhile, have shown that almost 70,000 children will wake up on Christmas Day in temporary accommodation, without a home to call their own.
We have a number of different definitions of homeless. There\’s the one we all understand, that living rough one. People without a roof over their heads. Then at the other extreme there\’s the one used by the homlessness industry like, say, Shelter. Someone living in unsuitable accomodation without a secure tenancy.
Again an important distinction. From memory, on any one night, there are 300 to 400 people living rough in London, a city of 8 million people. According to the likes of Shelter there are hundreds of thousands of \”homeless\”.
The abuse of these numbers and definitions will start soon enough. Someone will pop up and tell us that we must have more social housing otherwise hundreds of thousands will die at 43.
One other thing:
The new study into living rough, titled \”Homelessness: A silent killer\”, found suicide rates were nine times higher among homeless people than the general population.
They also found drug and alcohol abuse accounted for more than a third of all deaths among people living rough.
Meanwhile the research found deaths as a result of traffic accidents were three times as likely, infections twice as likely and falls are more than three times as likely to result in death.
Not a great surprise. To be living rough for any great length of time these days it is pretty much necessary to be an alcoholic, drug addict or mentally ill.
And what we\’d really like to know is, what is the average age of death of these groups so that we can compare it to the age of death of those living rough? For that is what will tell us about the effect of living rough, not a comparison with the general population.