National Records of Scotland

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Life expectancy continues to fall in Scotland

Life expectancy continues to fall in Scotland

Thursday, 22 Sep 2022
Demographic news release image

Life expectancy at birth in Scotland fell in the latest year, with the average life expectancy at birth for males being 76.6 years and 80.8 years for females, according to statistics published today by National Records of Scotland. 

The figures for 2019-2021 continue the decrease of the previous year, which was the sharpest fall since 1980-1982. 

Deprivation continues to have an impact on life expectancy. In the most deprived areas of Scotland, average male life expectancy was 13.7 years lower than in the least deprived areas. For females the difference was 10.5 years. This gap has become wider in recent years and Scotland has the lowest life expectancy of all UK countries.

Life expectancy was highest in Orkney Islands and lowest in Glasgow city for both males and females in 2019-2021, and most of Scotland’s council areas have seen life expectancy fall over the last few years. Life expectancy was higher in rural areas than in urban areas.

Julie Ramsay, Head of Vital Events Statistics at NRS, said:

"Life expectancy has decreased by more than 11 weeks for males and almost 8 weeks for females since 2018-2020.

"Our analysis shows that COVID-19 deaths accounted for the vast majority of the fall in life expectancy for both males and females. 


  1. National Records of Scotland (NRS) is a non-ministerial department of the     devolved Scottish Administration. It is responsible for producing statistics on Scotland’s population. 
  2. Life Expectancy in Scotland, 2019-2021 can be accessed on this website. The ONS publication for the UK can be found on the ONS website
  3. Data on estimates of Healthy Life Expectancy will be released in December 2022. 

Media enquiries should be directed to:  
Donna Green - 07775-027-380
Email: [email protected]

Further information about the statistics is available from:
NRS Customer Services
Email: [email protected]