Biggest drop in life expectancy in four decades driven by Covid

Scotland has the lowest life expectancy of all the UK countries.

Biggest drop in life expectancy in four decades driven by Covid iStock

Life expectancy at birth in Scotland has fallen in the biggest annual drop since the estimates were recorded 40 years ago – driven by deaths from coronavirus.

Scotland has the lowest life expectancy of all the UK countries.

The latest figures represent a decrease of around 17 and a half weeks for men and just over six weeks for women, for 2018 to 2020.

The National Records of Scotland, which published the statistics on Thursday, said the high number of excess deaths last year had led to the fall.

Most of these were down to Covid-19 but drug deaths were also a particular factor for men.

More than 1300 people died in Scotland in 2020 as a result of drug misuse – the highest annual figure on record.

This has been followed by 722 suspected drug deaths in Scotland in the first six months of this year, according to official statistics.

The gap between those in the most deprived areas and those in the least has also widened, with those in the most privileged places living for more than a decade longer.

Female life expectancy was highest in East Renfrewshire, at 84 years, and lowest in Glasgow, 78.3 years.

Glasgow was also the worst place for men, with them expected to live just 73.1 years.

However, males in Shetland had the highest life expectancy at birth in Scotland, with 80.6 years.

Across the country, men are expected to live for 76.8 years and women for 81 years, with those elsewhere in the UK living for around another two years.

But over the latest year, life expectancy has fallen in all UK countries.

Julie Ramsay, head of vital events statistics at the National Records of Scotland, said: “It is clear that the high number of excess deaths in 2020 has led to the fall in life expectancy.

“Our analysis shows that Covid-19 deaths accounted for the vast majority of the fall in life expectancy for both males and females, with drug-related deaths also having a negative impact on life expectancy for males.

”This measure of life expectancy provides an important summary of the health of the population and helps to show how this is changing over time.

“Increases in life expectancy point to a healthier population whilst reductions point to a decline in population health.

“Covid-19 has clearly driven a significant increase in deaths and this life expectancy measure will provide important evidence as to whether the impact of the pandemic is a one-off shock or whether it will have a sustained impact on mortality.”