Extra healthy years or just extra years? What can we know from the data we have on the island of Ireland?
As life expectancy continues to rise, the prevalence of chronic conditions is increasing in our society. However, we do not know if the extra years of life gained are being spent with disability and illness, or in good health. Furthermore, it is unclear if all groups in society experience their extra years of life in the same way. This report examines patterns of health expectancies across the island of Ireland, examining any North-South and socio-economic differences as well looking at differences in data sources. The older population (aged 65 or over) on the island of Ireland is growing and becoming a larger percentage of the total population. Republic of Ireland Census 2011 revealed that 12% of the RoI population was aged 65 or over (CSO, 2012), and Northern Ireland Census 2011 revealed that 13% of the NI population was aged 65 or over (NISRA, 2012). By 2041 the population aged 65 or over is projected to reach 22% in RoI and 24% in NI (McGill, 2010). It is unclear, however, if this increasing longevity will be enjoyed equally by all strata of society.