National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

Winter Mortality in Scotland – 2016/17

Winter Mortality in Scotland – 2016/17

Tuesday, 17 Oct 2017
Demography news release image

New figures released today by National Records of Scotland (NRS) show that a total of 20,930 deaths were registered across Scotland from December 2016 to March 2017, compared with 20,509 in the previous winter (2015/16). 

The seasonal difference was 2,720 for winter 2016/17, slightly lower than the corresponding figure of 2,850 for winter 2015/16.  

The seasonal increase of 2,720 in winter 2016/17 was smaller than in most of the 65 previous winters, but it was still above the level seen in five of the previous ten winters. NRS statistics show that mortality can fluctuate markedly from winter to winter: occasionally one year will have an unusually large figure, like the 4,060 for winter 2014/15.   

Commenting on these statistics, Tim Ellis, Chief Executive of NRS, said:

"There are always more deaths in the winter in Scotland than in any other season, but the long-term trend since the early 1950s has clearly been downward. However, the five-year moving average (which smoothes out much of the year-to-year fluctuation) has not changed much since the early 2000s.

"There is no single cause of additional deaths in winter. Very few are caused by hypothermia and only a small proportion directly by influenza. The underlying causes of most of the additional deaths include respiratory and circulatory diseases (such as pneumonia, coronary heart disease and stroke), dementia, and Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and other degenerative diseases.”

The full publication Winter Mortality in Scotland 2016/17 can be found on this website.