Text analysis - the headline and picture (for GCSE English)

'Life expectancy increases
but gap widens between rich and poor'

by Sarah Boseley
GCSE English - question 2: Explain how the headline and picture are effective and how they link to the text. 

The title of the article is big and informative, indicating that the article is based on scientific research, and not going to play on emotions. There are two facts that concern the author: life expectancy and the gap between rich and poor. The huge picture with the building of Bank of England dominates the page, implying that social inequalities are reflected in how long a person is going to live.

The picture of a bank usually means money and problems, the picture of the Bank of England indicates that the nation has been in financial troubles. The researchers from the Imperial College London warn that increasing life expectancy will be 'putting further pressure on pensions, health and social services'.

Two groups of people are represented in the picture: the rich by the huge legs, crossing from the left and the poor by a small figurine of a man walking away, being seen through the gap between the legs. This is a very effective way of visualizing the social gaps, discussed in the article.

The affluent are eating lunch, not much troubled by 'five years of austerity'. They are sitting on the right (right-winged), they are not only richer but also live longer: 'Men in Blackpool can currently expect to live to just 75.2 years, the lowest life expectancy in the country, while those in the City of London – where life expectancy is highest – live an average of 83.4 years,' says the author.

The static right part of the picture is unbalanced by the movement on the left, forcing the reader to look at a small figure of an old man as a symbol of walking away from the prospectus life. He cannot expect to live so long - his life has been shortened by the poor life standards.

The author explains that the current problems with financing the public sectors and plans to privatize NHS may widen these gaps even more, because when 'social conditions have become worse, especially for children and younger people, there has been greater health inequality', hence shorter lives of the poor.


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