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Last updated at 11:35 BST, Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Mind the equality gap!


24 July 2012

Anyone who has visited London will be familiar with the tube map - the grid of brightly coloured lines that show where the London Underground stations are. A university researcher has produced a tube map that shows the life expectancy of the people living near each station - a graphic reminder of London's deep social inequalities.


Beth McLeod

People looking at a tube map

Children born near consecutive tube stops will have different life expectancies


Click to hear the report


If you're hoping for a long and healthy life, the best place in London to live is here in Oxford Circus, where the life expectancy for children born now is 96 years. The area is slap bang in the middle of the city, and its residents tend to be very wealthy - living in imposing houses that are secluded from the hectic high street. So it's not surprising that it has come out top in a new map by Dr. James Cheshire of University College London that he created as a vivid display of disparities in wealth.

"The tube map is a very popular thing for Londoners, all of us can relate to it as we travel around the city. Conventionally these sorts of demographic statistics are displayed as a map that shows general areas rather than giving someone something more tangible to think about."

If you travel 15 minutes or so on the underground - to Brixton station in South London - the life expectancy drops to 78 - a full 18 years less than in Oxford Circus.

There is a well-established link between life expectancy and deprivation, and Brixton is one of the poorer areas of London - it has a large immigrant population and was one of the scenes of last year's riots.

With recent research showing that levels of inequality in the UK have returned to heights last experienced at the start of the Second World War, this map points out that one of the world's wealthiest cities really has to "mind the gap" in living standards.


Click to hear the vocabulary


life expectancy

the length of time a person is likely to live

slap bang in the middle

right in the centre


hidden from view


striking, clear to understand


differences, inequalities




very clear


lacking in money or possessions

immigrant population

people who have moved to a place from different countries


noisy and often violent disorder