Each year since 1855, National Records of Scotland has published the Registrar General’s Annual Review, providing an annual overview of the latest demographic trends.

NRS statistician Maria Kaye summarises what we know about life expectancy in Scotland, as found in “Scotland’s Population 2016” – the 162nd Annual Review.

The most recent life expectancy figures published by the National Records of Scotland tell us that a baby girl born in Scotland around 2014 could expect to live for 81.1 years while a baby boy could expect to live until he was 77.1 years old.

Over the past three decades, life expectancy has steadily improved – increasing by 8.0 years for males and by 5.8 years for females since around 1981. The gap between male and female life expectancy has also decreased over the period, from a gap of 6.2 years for those born around 1981 to a gap of 4.1 years for those born around 2014.

Over the past few years, we have seen the rate of increase in life expectancy slow and the most recent estimates of life expectancy at birth remained unchanged. This was true both in Scotland and for the UK as a whole and is likely to have been affected by an increased number of deaths in 2015.

Over the next 25 years, life expectancy is projected to rise further, reaching 82.3 years for males and 85.0 years for females by 2039.

Scotland has the lowest life expectancy of all of the UK constituent countries and is lower than the UK as a whole which has a life expectancy of 82.8 years for females and 79.1 years for males.

Within Scotland, there is a difference of nearly five years in life expectancy for females between the council area with the highest (East Dunbartonshire) and the lowest (West Dunbartonshire) life expectancy. For males, there is a gap of seven years between the highest (East Dunbartonshire) and lowest (Glasgow city).

Life Expectancy Open Book 2
Change in life expectancy at birth between 1981 and 2014 for both males and females


More information about life expectancy statistics including estimates for Scottish Councils and NHS Boards are available on our website. Further commentary on our latest statistics can be found in the Registrar General’s Annual Review of Demographic Trends for 2016, which was published on the 2nd of August.

Maria Kaye

Assistant Statistician

National Records of Scotland

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