Gains in life expectancy in Scotland have stalled over recent years and death rates have risen in the most deprived areas, according to a new report published by the Scottish Public Health Observatory.
The report – Recent adverse mortality trends in Scotland: comparison with other high-income countries - shows that the era of rapidly rising life expectancy has come to an end with a major slowdown from 2012 for men and from 2014 for women.
The study looked at life expectancy data from 24 countries from 1992 to 2016, as well as tracking the data for Scotland all the way back to 1857. It found that life expectancy gains slowed in most countries from 2012 on, but there were notable exceptions, with substantial gains in Japan, Korea and countries of Eastern Europe.
Life expectancy has soared from just 41 years for men and 44 years for women in Scotland in 1855 to 77 years for men and 81 years for women in 2016, but detailed analysis shows a marked slowdown in recent years, to a level last seen in the early 1970s.
It found that life expectancy gains averaged around 10-11 weeks per year for women in Scotland from 1997 to 2011, and 14-17 weeks per year for men in that period. However from 2012 on those improvements slowed to just 2.5 weeks per year for women and 4.5 weeks per year for men.
The report notes that various causes have been mooted for the slowdown in life expectancy gains including the impact of austerity, influenza and obesity, but further work is needed to assess the impact of these.
However an accompanying report found that death rates rose amongst the most socioeconomically deprived areas of Scotland in the period.
The study Socioeconomic inequality in recent adverse mortality trends in Scotland found that the age-standardised mortality rate fell by 1.5% within the most deprived quintile between 2012 and 2017.
- National Records of Scotland revealed last year that life expectancy at birth fell in 2015-17 for the first time in 35 years to 77 years for men and 81.1 years, a drop of 0.1 years each.
- Life expectancy in Northern Ireland in 2015-17 was 78.5 years for males and 82.3 years for females (DOH, 2018). In the Republic of Ireland in it was 79.9 years for men and 83.6 years for women in 2016 (Eurostat).
- Life expectancy has fallen in the United States in 2017 to 78.6 years partly due to an increase in drug overdoses and suicide according to the US Centres for Disease Control.