Scotland life expectancy: The areas with the highest and lowest life expectancy in Scotland

People in Scotland are likely to die earlier than those anywhere else in the UK, according to new figures which show life expectancy north of the border falling for the second year in a row.
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Average life expectancy at birth is now 76.6 years for males and 80.8 years for females, according to statistics published by National Records of Scotland.

Deprivation continues to be a significant factor – average male life expectancy in the most deprived areas of Scotland was 13.7 years fewer than in the least deprived. For females the difference was 10.5 years.

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Most parts of Scotland have seen life expectancy fall over the last few years. Life expectancy was higher in rural areas than in urban areas, with Orkney having the highest life expectancy – 80.4 for men and 83.8 for women. While Glasgow had the lowest – 72.9 for men and 78 for women.

Edinburgh has the ninth highest life expectancy in Scotland – 78 for men and 82.4 for women – with East Lothian higher, in seventh place, with figures of 78.9 for males and 82.6 for females.

Midlothian is 17th in the table with life expectancy of 77.6 for men and 81 for women, and West Lothian 21st with male life expectancy of 77.1 and female of 80.5.

Julie Ramsay, head of vital events statistics at NRS, said: "Life expectancy has decreased by more than 11 weeks for males and almost eight weeks for females since 2018-2020.

Life expectancy in Scotland has fallen for the second year running.  Photo: PA.Life expectancy in Scotland has fallen for the second year running.  Photo: PA.
Life expectancy in Scotland has fallen for the second year running. Photo: PA.
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"Our analysis shows that Covid-19 deaths accounted for the vast majority of the fall in life expectancy for both males and females."

Scotland’s high number of drug deaths was also identified as a factor.

Older people’s charity Age Scotland described the fall if life expectancy as “a cause for concern”. Chief executive Brian Sloan said: “There’s no doubt that the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdowns have had a significant impact on life expectancy in Scotland, with older people most at risk and worst affected by the virus.

“The gulf between the richest and poorest areas of our country, which has widened slightly, remains unacceptably high, highlighting the devastating link between income levels and overall life expectancy.

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“We want Scotland to be the best place in the world to grow older but, given that we have a rapidly ageing population but the lowest life expectancy of all UK countries, there is still a long way to go.

"Reducing health inequalities and poverty and further investment in our nation’s health and social care is vital to making Scotland a better, healthier place for everyone, regardless of where they live.”

But he welcomed the fact the number of people aged 100 or older has passed the 1,000 mark in Scotland for the first time.

“It is heartening to learn that the number of people in Scotland reaching their centenary is continuing to increase, demonstrating the power of advances in medicine and the increasing effectiveness of preventative treatments in helping people live longer and healthier lives.”

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Scottish Conservative health spokesman Dr Sandesh Gulhane branded the life expectancy figures "deeply alarming". He said: "While Covid is a factor in the reduction of life expectancy all across the UK, the fact remains that it had already started falling in Scotland before the pandemic, and life expectancy is significantly lower here – where the SNP have been responsible for healthcare for 15 years – than in the rest of the UK.

"It's tragic that, if you live in Scotland your life will be shorter and you'll enjoy fewer years of good health than people in other parts of the UK."

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader and Edinburgh Western MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “Scotland has suffered as a result of years of distracted governments with broken priorities. Deprivation still cuts too many lives short. As we look ahead to a long and difficult winter with a crisis in emergency care already biting, ministers must get a grip on the things that really matter.”

SNP Public Health Minister Maree Todd said the statistics showed the ongoing impact of Covid and that the pandemic disproportionately affected the most deprived communities.

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She said: "We are doing all we can to ensure everyone in Scotland can live a long and healthy life. The pandemic has taught us the importance of intervening to protect the health of the most vulnerable in our society.

"We are using all the powers currently at our disposal to address the cost-of-living crisis and to tackle poverty and inequality in Scotland. However, the UK Government retains many of the key policy levers needed to address health inequalities."

The areas with the highest life expectancy in Scotland

- Orkney Islands

- East Renfrewshire

- East Dunbartonshire

- Shetland Islands

- Na h-Eileanan Siar

- Perth and Kinross

- East Lothian

- Scottish Borders

- City of Edinburgh

- Moray

The areas with the lowest life expectancy in Scotland

- Glasgow City

- West Dunbartonshire

- North Lanarkshire

- Inverclyde

- Dundee City

- East Ayrshire

- North Ayrshire

- Renfrewshire

- Falkirk

- Clackmannanshire