Healthy life expectancy in Scotland falls, figures show

Healthy life expectancy for Scots has decreased, with a widening gap between the richest and poorest, according to the latest figures.

Estimates for how long both men and women can expect to live in good health fell between 2016-18 and 2017-2019.

Women’s healthy life expectancy has dropped from 62.2 years to 61.9 in that timeframe and is now the lowest since records began in 2009-2011.

Since 2009-2011, it has fallen by more than a year – down from 63 years at the start of the decade.

Healthy life expectancy for men stands at 61.9 years – a decrease of almost two and a half months from the previous year, although it remains higher than the 61.1 years recorded in 2009-2011.

The measure of healthy life expectancy is monitored by the National Records of Scotland and estimates the number of years lived in “very good” or “good” general health, based on individuals’ responses to the annual population survey.

The gap for those born into the poorest and most deprived circumstances grew sharply.

For men, the gap is now 25.1 years of healthy life between those in the top 10% and bottom 10% of the population, up two years compared to 2016-2018.

The gap for women is now 21.5 years, an increase of 2.4 years from the previous year’s figures.

By region, healthy life expectancy at birth for males was highest in East Dunbartonshire, at 69.8 years, and lowest in Glasgow at 54.6 years.

For females, healthy life expectancy at birth was highest in Orkney at 75.1 years – the only region to be higher than 70 – and lowest in North Ayrshire at 56.3 years.

Julie Ramsay, head of vital events statistics at the National Records of Scotland, 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.”