Scotsmen closing the life expectancy gap on women


SCOTS men who want to live as long as women are in for some good news – the gap in life expectancy is gradually narrowing.

And this is because the number of men dying from alcohol-related problems, violence, suicides and illness is decreasing faster than the number of women.

Recently published information from NHS Scotland shows that the difference in life expectancy between men and women has reduced to 4 years, compared to 6.4 in the 1980s.

The difference has gradually narrowed since 1980


Scottish men born in 2013 are now expected to live to the age of 77.1, with women expected to live to 81.1 years on average.

The difference has gradually narrowed since 1980 – when men were expected to live to 69 and women predicted to reach 75.

According to experts, the reason for the narrowing gap lies in the fact that the male life expectancy rate is increasing much faster than the female one.

Gerry McCartney, a consultant in public health at NHS Health Scotland said: “In the 1980s the number of people dying from violence, alcohol and suicide was much higher for men.

“Similarly, men are more prone to illnesses that kill later on in life, such as heart disease and diabetes.

“Men have been benefitting greatly from improved health facilities and services, meaning that they are living longer.

Scotland still has huge regional disparities
Scotland still has huge regional disparities


“Since they were more affected by these problems in the first place, it means that their life expectancy is increasing at a faster rate than women’s.”

He added that across the world alcohol, drugs and violence affect men more, though it is unclear why.


He said: “We could speculate all day as to reasons why. Genetics is one possibility, men taking longer to visit the doctor is another. In truth, we don’t really know.”

The same figures reveal even better news for men when it comes to “healthy life expectancy”.

This is the number of years a person can expect to live without being affected by a serious condition.

The gap between men and women in healthy life expectancy in 1980 was 3.3 years.

But by 2013 it had reduced to 1.1 years, with men living 69.1 “healthy” years and women 71.9.

Mr McCartney said: “Despite the fact that women are living longer, they are living more years in ill health.

“Healthy life expectancy for women has flattened out, whereas men’s has continued to increase.

“In that sense, men are doing better and living less ‘ill’ years.”


Figures show that overall, life expectancy in both men and women has been increasing since 1850.

However, Scotland still has some of the worst figures for life expectancy in Europe, with huge regional disparities.

Earlier this year it was reported that men in the least deprived areas of Scotland may live 12.5 years longer than those in more urban areas.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We welcome the fact that the gender gap for healthy life expectancy is closing. The reasons for this are extremely complex, and include lifestyle changes, social factors and improvements in health care.”