National Records of Scotland

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Over a third of life spent in poor health for most deprived

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Over a third of life spent in poor health for most deprived

Wednesday, 14 Dec 2022
demography news release image

People in the most deprived communities are spending more than one third of their lives in poor health, according to new figures released by National Records of Scotland. 

Healthy Life Expectancy (HLE) is a population average based on the self-reported experiences of a sample of people. It’s an indicator of the health of the whole population.

In 2019-2021 HLE at birth for females was 61.1 years and for males was 60.4 years. It has fallen for both over the latest year. This is in line with a downward trend that started in 2014-2016 for females and 2015-2017 for males. 

Healthy life expectancy for females was almost 25 years lower for the most deprived areas compared to the least deprived. The difference was even greater for males at 26 years. 

Maria, Kaye-Bardgett, NRS statistician said: 

“It’s important to recognise the difference between life expectancy and healthy life expectancy but also how they impact on each other. 

“These figures show that people living in the most deprived communities are more likely to report their health poor - so they have a shorter healthy life expectancy.

“We already know from life expectancy figures that people in the most deprived communities die at younger ages. Using both sets of figures we can say that males and females in the most deprived communities spend more than a third of their lives in poor health. In comparison people in the least deprived areas can expect to live around 15% of their lives in poor health and will enjoy longer lives.”

HLE has been higher for females than for males since the start of the time series for this data. However the gap between males and females has become smaller over time. 


The report, Healthy Life Expectancy 2019-2021, is available on the NRS website alongside data tables. 

The personal response data comes from the Annual Population Survey run by ONS across the UK. 

The most recent years for which UK comparisons are available are 2018-2020. 

Media enquiries should be directed to:

Donna Green
NRS Communications
Tel: 07775-027-380
Email: [email protected]  

Further information about the statistics is available from:

NRS Customer Services
Email: [email protected]