Healthy life expectancy in Scotland drops to just 61 years for men and women

Healthy life expectancy has dropped across Scotland according to a shock new report, with a widening gap between the richest and poorest.

Males can expect to live in good health for an average of 61.7 years from birth while for females it is 61.9 years, according to a report published today by the National Records of Scotland (NRS).

Life expectancy (LE) is an estimate of how many years a person might be expected to live, whereas healthy life expectancy (HLE) is an estimate of how many years they might live in a healthy state.

The number of years a person can expect to live a healthy life varies by council area, with those living in affluent suburban areas enjoying longer lives.

Figures for 2017-2019, show that the gap in HLE at birth between the most and least deprived areas was 25.1 years for males and 21.5 years for females.

HLE at birth for males was highest in East Dunbartonshire, at 69.8 years and lowest in Glasgow City at 54.6 years.

For females, HLE at birth was highest in Orkney at 75.1 years and lowest in North Ayrshire at 56.3 years.

Julie Ramsay of the NRS said: “Over the last decade healthy life expectancy has increased for males and decreased for females. However, both males and females experienced a decrease in healthy life expectancy over the latest year.

“The decrease in healthy life expectancy coincides with a stalling of growth in life expectancy in recent years, and has resulted in a lower proportion of life being spent in good health with 79.9% for males and 76.3% for females.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Our Programme for Government includes commitments to improve life expectancy and to tackle health inequalities.

“We are continuing our work to improve life expectancy across Scotland by implementing our bold package of measures to tackle key issues such as smoking, obesity, inactivity and alcohol misuse.

“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.”