Life expectancy of Scots falls for first time in 35 years

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Life expectancy in Scotland has fallen for the first time in 35 years, official figures have revealed.

Males born in the period 2015 to 2017 can expect to live until the age of 77, new data from National Records of Scotland (NRS) showed, while girls born over the same period have a life expectancy of 81.1 years.

After three years where there had been “little or no change” in life expectancy, NRS said the slight decrease over the last year indicated a “stall in life expectancy improvements in Scotland”.

Labour health spokesman Anas Sarwar said the last time life expectancy had fallen was in 1983, when Tory Margaret Thatcher was prime minister.

The figures were published at the same time as statistics showing the number of Scots living to be 100 years old or more is at near record level, with the country having an estimated 900 centenarians in 2017.

That is an increase of 45% from the estimated 620 centenarians a decade ago.

But the fall in life expectancy – the first time the estimates had decreased for both sexes for 35 years – prompted concern from opposition politicians, who branded it a “wake-up call” for the Scottish Government and others.

They hit out after data from the Office for National Statistics showed life expectancy for women fell from 81.15 years for those born in 2014 to 2016 to 81.09 years for those born in 2015 to 2017.

For males life expectancy went from 77.07 years to 77.02 years over the same period.

While life expectancy has increased by 7.9 years for men and 5.8 years for women over the last 35 years, the figures showed Scotland still had the lowest life expectancy of the four nations in the UK.

Annie Wells, Scottish Conservative public health spokeswoman, said: “For years increases in life expectancy have indicated improvements in health and quality of life, therefore this decrease in life expectancy has implications.

“This is indeed a wake-up call for everyone involved in public health improvement in Scotland, and demonstrates that we cannot be complacent.

“In addition, Scotland still has the lowest life expectancy of all the UK nations, something that is troubling in itself.”

She added: “What is clear is that education, health and economic activity all have their roles to play in raising life expectancy once more.”

Meanwhile Mr Sarwar hit out at both the Scottish and UK governments, saying: “For the first time in 35 years the life expectancy of both men and women has fallen in Scotland.

“That is a statistic which should shame both the Tory and SNP governments.”

He added: “After more than a decade of the SNP in charge of the country’s health service, Scotland has the lowest life expectancy rates of any part of the UK.”

Liberal Democrat health spokesman Alex Cole-Hamilton stated: “Life expectancy falling for both sexes, for the first time in 35 years, should ring alarm bells at the very top of government.”

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