British Jews enjoy better health than almost any other religious or ethnic group in the country, according to a new report that lifts the lid on illness and disability in the community, writes Justin Cohen.

The Institute for Jewish Policy Research report draws on recently-released data from the 2011 Census to also reveal that 5,600 Jews are economically inactive because of long-term illness and around 2,000 children suffer from a limiting condition.

But it also reveals that older Jews are among the least likely to report their health as ‘bad’ or ‘very bad’ – with 19 percent of respondents over the age of 75 claiming this. This is exactly the same percentage as among Christians but significantly lower than among Hindus (27 percent), Sikhs (33 percent) and Muslims (42 percent) – the religious group that reported the worst health among pensioners.

Across the age spectrum, however, Christians are most likely to self-report being generally unwell while Jews [one in 20] are about average when compared with other religious and ethnic groups. “Overall, compared to other groups, Jews have better general health than most ‘white ethnics’ and Muslims, but not as good as Asian or black groups,” said the study’s David Graham.

“However, since age is such an important predictor of health and Jews are, on average, older than most other groups, we find that, once this age factor is taken into account, Jews are actually one of the healthiest groups of all.”

This week's JN front page reports on the results of the new health survey.

This week’s JN front page reports on the results of the new health survey.

The report claims the reason Jewish adults exhibit better general health “is related to higher than average standards of living but also to lifestyle – they are less likely to smoke or drink alcohol than the general population”.

Being divorced or separated is also bad for one’s health, according to the report.

Eleven percent of respondents who state that they are single say they are in poor health compared to five percent of those with a Continued from page 1 partner. But those with a partner are in turn twice as likely to be ill than among singles.

Community members in lower socio-economic brackets are five times more likely to report poor health than their counterparts in higher socio-economic brackets, according to the figures.

Meanwhile, around 17 percent of UK Jews experience a chronic condition or disability which significantly limits their daily activities, with nearly half of the 22,076 limited ‘a lot’ aged under 75. In 2011, some 5,600 Jews aged 16 and above said they were ‘not working’ as a result of being long-term sick or disabled –19 percent fewer than in 2001.

The study also shines a fascinating light on the number of Jewish people who are being cared for at home or in care homes across the country.

About 27,400 Jews [one in 10] are unpaid carers to family members and friends, while more than 3,500 community members are living in medical or care facilities. In a sign that care is often provided at home, just nine percent of community members aged 75 live in care facilities.

Jewish Policy Research executive director Dr Jonathan Boyd [who analyses the figures below], said the study, along with other available data from the 2011 Census, “can help provide us with a mine of information which can be of enormous benefit to all Jewish charities working in this sector”.