Premature death still higher for lower paid
Life expectancy is at an all-time high in Ireland - but professionals are more likely to live longer.
Between 1950 and 2012, life expectancy grew by 15 years on average, from 66 to 81.
The length of people's lives has been increasing for over half a century and research shows that the rate of improvement increased during the economic boom around the turn of the century.
However, this large improvement in life expectancy was not shared equally across social groups, according to the new research carried out by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ERSI), Trinity College Dublin and NUI Maynooth.
Whereas death rates among male professionals, managers and the self-employed decreased by 27pc between the 1990s and 2000s, those among male working class groups decreased by 12pc.
The research will be the focus of a conference at the ERSI today.
"The good news is that life expectancy for all groups in Ireland is at an all-time high," said Professor Richard Layte of Trinity College and the ERSI.
"The bad news is that the gap between groups has increased. This project attempts to understand why and what we can do about it," Professor Layte added.
When it came to women, the research found that "the female mortality rate among manual groups from digestive causes were 1.5 times higher than the professional group in the 1980s. By the 2000s, this differential had increased to 2.1.
"Rises in deaths from digestive diseases such as cirrhosis are strongly linked to increased alcohol consumption," the research said.
Meanwhile, our improved life expectancy is being attributed to real improvements in living standards and the adoption of healthier lifestyles.
Reductions in smoking since the 1970s are particularly important, the researchers said.
In addition, recent advances in the control of heart and respiratory conditions among those aged 65 and over, contributed to this longevity.