From Socialist Voice, February 2006

Facts on inequality in Ireland

◼ Between 1989 and 1998 the death rate for all causes of death was more than three times higher in the lowest occupational class than in the highest.
◼ The death rate for all cancers among the lowest occupational class is more than twice as high for the highest class, is nearly three times higher for strokes, is four times higher for lung cancer, and is six times higher for accidents.
◼ Perinatal mortality in poorer families is three times higher than in richer families.
◼ Unemployed women are more than twice as likely to give birth to low-weight babies as women in the higher professional group.
◼ The incidence of chronic physical illness has been found to be two-and-a-half times higher for poor people than for the wealthy.
◼ Men in unskilled jobs are four times more likely to be admitted to hospital for schizophrenia than higher professional workers.
◼ The rate of hospital admission for mental illness is more than six times higher for people in the lower socio-economic groups than for those in the higher-income groups.
◼ The incidence of male suicide is far higher in the lower socio-economic groups than in higher-income groups.
◼ 39 per cent of people surveyed in 2003 identified financial problems as the greatest factor in preventing them from improving their health.

Some groups experience particularly extreme health inequalities
◼ Members of the Traveller community live between ten and twelve years less than the population as a whole. The 2002 census found that only 3 per cent of Travellers were aged over sixty-five, compared with 11 per cent of the population generally.
◼ The rate of sudden infant death among Travellers is twelve times higher than for the general population.
◼ Many expectant mothers in “direct provision” accommodation suffer malnutrition. Babies in these communities suffer ill-health because of diet, and many adults experience hunger.
◼ Homeless people experience a high incidence of ill-health. A report in 1997 found that 40 per cent of hostel-dwellers had a serious psychiatric illness, 42 per cent had problems of alcohol dependence, and 18 per cent had physical problems.
◼ The incidence of injecting drug abuse is almost entirely confined to people from the lower socio-economic groups.

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