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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 May, 2003, 13:09 GMT 14:09 UK
Wales sicker than rest of UK
Wales' poor health record is partly down to its history

A greater proportion of people in Wales are ill, compared to the rest of the UK, new figures have revealed.

Statistics released from the 2001 Census on Wednesday show that nearly one in four people (23.27%) in Wales have a long-term illness.

But the UK average is nearly five per cent lower, at 18.47%, according to the third round of data released from the 200m national survey.

The census also revealed that more people in Wales (12.45%) felt their health was "not good" than elsewhere in the UK (9.34%).

Tony Beddow, senior fellow at the Welsh Institute for Health and Social Care, said that the prominence of coal and steel industries over the last 40 years were partly responsible for this poor health record.

Ill-health and poverty go hand in hand
Tony Beddow, Welsh Institute for Health and Social Care

"The economic history of Wales has been different from many parts of England," he said.

"There is a greater reliance on extracting and heavy industry - these take their toll on the population."

This claim was backed up by other figures released on Wednesday, which show a greater proportion of people in Wales work in manufacturing, construction, mining and quarrying (24.76%) than the UK average (21.98%).


Mr Beddow added that other factors were also involved.

"The economic performance of Wales is also lower - it is well-accepted there is a link between economic well-being and health well-being," he said.

"Ill-health and poverty go hand in hand."

Mr Beddow also said that, in some areas of long-term employment, some people can be incorrectly given medical labels.

Elsewhere, census shows Wales has a greater proportion of health and social workers, with 13% of the population in this occupation, compared to a UK average of 10.81%.

Lone parents

The figures also revealed 74.8% of people in Wales were born in the country.

Nearly 15% of this native population can speak, read and write Welsh.

Meanwhile, the census also shows almost one in four children in Wales and England now lives in a one-parent family.

More than 10% of children are in step-families and at least 45,000 youngsters live in communal establishments.

And single-pensioner households now account for almost one in seven homes.

Census details have already shown Wales population to be down 3.2% to 2,903,085.

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