Scottish life expectancy still lowest in UK

Scots still die younger than people living in other UK nations, despite improvements to life expectancy over the past three decades.

Life expectancy in Scotland still lags behind the rest of the UK.
Life expectancy in Scotland still lags behind the rest of the UK.

Boys born in 2013-15 can expect to live to 77.1 while girls could live to 81.6, which is two years less for men and 1.7 years less for women than the UK average, the latest National Records of Scotland (NRS) figures reveal.

The report laid bare “wide variations” between different areas, likely linked to deprivation and health inequalities.

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Professor Robert E Wright, a demographic expert from Strathclyde University, said flagging life expectancy was “a puzzle” as Scotland’s poor record on alcohol and diet would not explain the size of the gap.

He said: “It’s good that life expectancy is improving as it is a very good indicator of standards of living.

“The bad news is that it is going faster in other countries than is it is in Scotland, like in England and the rest of the UK nations.

“Almost everybody is doing better than us. Our life expectancy is more like Poland than England. It is a bit of a puzzle.

“Diet was a big concern and alcohol abuse, but while these things do impact on life expectancy, they are not big enough to explain the difference between us and the rest of the UK.”

Glasgow had the lowest life expectancy in the UK at 73.4 years, which is dragging down the overall Scottish rates, Prof Wright said.

Men in East Dunbartonshire can expect to live 7.1 years longer than in Glasgow City, while women in East Dunbartonshire could live for 83.5 years, 4.8 years longer than in West Dunbartonshire.

Tim Ellis, NRS chief executive and Registrar General for Scotland, said: “This report shows that while life expectancy continues to improve, there is still wide variation across Scotland.

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“The report also shows that the gap between life expectancy for men and for women is continuing to narrow.

“Life expectancy for men is highest in East Dunbartonshire and lowest in Glasgow City, while for women it is highest in East Dunbartonshire and lowest in West Dunbartonshire.”

Amongst European countries, Cyprus boasted the highest male life expectancy at 80.9 years, 3.8 years higher than in Scotland.

Spanish women were likely to live five years longer than their Scottish peers, reaching 86.2 years old.