Irish Protestants live longer than Catholics

old couple on a bike ride

Protestants in Ireland have longer life expectancy than their Catholic counterparts, according to a recent study.

Researchers from the Central Statistics Office examined 12 months’ worth of data from 24 April 2016 onwards of people who had died.

The data showed that over the course of the year, 563 Protestants per 100,000 died. While for Catholics the figure was 660 people per 100,000.

old couple on a bike ride

The figures for men and women in the two religions were roughly the same.

The figures are called ‘standardised death rates’. They are statistical measures that factor out any variations in population groups that might distort the total. This helps researchers to make direct comparisons.

Historian Roy Foster says this could be because Protestants, in general, lead more ‘thrifty’ lifestyles than Catholics.

He said: “Protestants are experts at keeping themselves warm in cold houses.”

Dr Ida Milne was joint editor of the book ‘Protestant and Irish: The Minority’s Search for Place in Independent Ireland.’ She is also a history lecturer at Carlow College.

She agrees with Foster that the thrifty lifestyle of Irish Protestants contributes to their longer lifespan.

She said: “It has quite a lot to do with frugality.”

“They [Protestants] would be very thrifty and frugal and would probably not overheat.

“They are healthier, but they might not have done it for healthier reasons. They would see thrift and not living a luxurious lifestyle as a virtue so that might mean that they might be more sparing with doughnuts.”

Elsewhere the data showed that married couples live longer than single people and that people from affluent areas also enjoy a longer life expectancy.

Others with a longer life expectancy include people who own their home over those who rent, mangers over unskilled workers and the those with higher education over those with just a primary school education.

Written by Michael Kehoe @michaelcallingJoin our community