We welcome the publication of the Registrar General’s Annual Review of Demographic trends for 2018. Understanding trends in life expectancy is important because spotting changes such as a slowing down or a decline can indicate a wider problem. The Registrar General’s review published today shows life expectancy has decreased in the latest three year period with the largest decreases in Scotland’s poorest areas.

Gerry McCartney, Head of the Public Health Observatory at NHS Health Scotland said:  

“How long people live is a marker of overall health and so to see that life expectancy across Scotland has stalled and in fact declined in recent years is a real concern. So too is the fact that people in our poorest areas are living shorter lives than those in our more wealthy areas. This is not only unfair, and preventable, but it can also give an indication that this inequality is driving the stall in expectancy.

“The circumstances in which we live should not impact on health so much that the right to live a long and healthy life is compromised by how much money we have. Undoing the causes of poverty is essential if we are to address this decline, improve Scotland’s health and ensure people live in good health, for longer.

“We are working hard as a public health community to better understand the trends and their underlying causes. The evidence we have indicates that countries that have reduced funding for public services and social security payments have seen the trends in life expectancy worsen most. It is therefore important that we protect the incomes of the poorest people in society and funding for public services if we are to reverse these trends.”