Scotland's life expectancy is the lowest in Western Europe with poorest Scots men expected to die 13 years before those in 'least deprived' areas

Life expectancy in Scotland is stalling and is now the lowest in Western Europe, according to the latest official report.

New figures, published on Thursday by the National Records of Scotland (NRS), show the average life expectancy at birth is 77.1 years for men and 81.1 years for women for those born in the period 2017-2019.

The statistics also revealed men born in Glasgow are expected to die seven years earlier on average than those born in East Dunbartonshire.

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Women born in Glasgow are expected to live around five and a half years less than those in East Renfrewshire.

Official figures have been released highlighting life expectancy in Scotland.
Official figures have been released highlighting life expectancy in Scotland.

And men living in the “least deprived” areas of Scotland are likely to live over 13 years longer than those in the “most deprived” places, while the deprivation gap for women is 10 years.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Life expectancy in Scotland had been increasing in recent decades but has remained virtually unchanged since 2012-2014.

“Our Programme for Government published earlier this month includes commitments to improve life expectancy and to tackle health inequalities. The coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic has shown clearly that pre-existing health inequalities have led to a significantly poorer outcome for particular groups of people. We are now putting actions in place to protect the most vulnerable and these actions will also help reduce future health inequalities.

“This work to help people live longer, healthier lives is supported by our investment in measures such as affordable housing, free prescriptions, free personal care and providing free school meals."

Life expectancy across the UK has slowed in recent years. Image: NRS/ONS

The NRS report said Scotland has the lowest life expectancy of all UK countries for both men and women, with life expectancy in England at 79.9 years for men and 83.6 years for women compared to 77.1 years and 81.1 years in Scotland respectively. The average UK life expectancy is 79.4 for men and 83 for women.

Comparisons to Europe

Italy has the highest life expectancy in Europe for men (81.2 years) and Latvia has the lowest (70.1 years), while the highest life expectancy for women is in Spain (86.3 years) and lowest in Bulgaria (78.6 years).

Data shows that, of the countries in Western Europe, Scotland also has the lowest life expectancy. The report says life expectancy in Scotland has always been lower than – or among – the lowest in Western Europe.

This graphic shows the life expectancy difference between most and least deprived in Scotland. Image: NRS

Scotland is sandwiched between Portugal (78.3 years) and Czechia (76.2 years) for men and, for women, between Croatia (81.5 years) and Slovakia (80.8 years).

The report says “the majority” of European countries have experienced a slowing in the rate of life expectancy increase since this period and “a few have effectively stalled.”

But countries like the Republic of Ireland continue to see increases in life expectancy at a similar rate before and after 2012-14.

Within Scotland

In East Renfrewshire, a girl born in 2017-19 could expect to live for 84 years but a girl born in Glasgow City in this period could expect to live to 78.5 years.

Boys born in 2017-19 in East Dunbartonshire have the highest life expectancy (80.5 years) whereas those born in Glasgow City could expect to live for 73.6 years.

Most of Scotland’s council areas have also experienced a slow-down or stalling in life expectancy growth in the past eight years.

Areas including Dundee and Inverclyde recorded a decrease in life expectancy compared to the 2012-14 period.

Life expectancy also varies by rurality across Scotland with people living in more rural areas generally living longer and spending more years in good health than those in more urban areas.

Julie Ramsay, head of vital events statistics at NRS, said: “The rate of life expectancy growth has stalled over the last few years in Scotland and this has been broadly reflective of the picture throughout the country.”

The latest statistics cover the three year period of 2017-19 and do not include any deaths involving Covid-19.