Life Expectancy varies hugely across the UK with many years difference between the most and least deprived areas. In this article, we look at the variances by age band.

“Life Expectancy” refers to the number of years the average person can expect to live. It is a good measure of peoples general health rather than a stark prediction.

Even in a small country like the UK there can be a 6 year difference in life expectancy from one area to another.

The Scotland Effect

The most obvious trend from the map above is the low life expectancy in Scotland, commonly known by physicians as “The Scotland Effect”. We can clarify this by breaking down the data by nation. We can see that Northern Ireland has the highest expectancy with 60.9, then England with 60.7, Wales with 60.1 and in Scotland it’s 59.3.

This trend has been recorded for decades but we are still unsure why it exists.

The direct cause would appear to be the higher smoking, alcohol and drug abuse seen in Scotland, especially Glasgow. But these behaviours are formed from decades of political and economic imbalance where the poor have paid the price. Click here for more information on this topic.

The Gender Gap

A bigger difference can be seen between the two sexes. For the 18-24 age group, the female average is 62.5 whereas the male average is 58.9. That’s over a 3-year difference!

As you can imagine, finding the route of this trend is a very complicated issue. There have been many theories such as males abusing their bodies with cigarettes and alcohol more than women but the same trend is true in other great apes who have never touched a cigarette.

This implies the cause is biological. Studies suggest the male sex hormone testosterone may increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases and certain cancers later on in life. Larger bodies also increase the risk of cancer as there are more cells to mutate. For more information click here.


There appears to be little males can do to balance the books, but there are ways we can all increase our expected life spans. Eating a healthy diet, taking part in regular exercise and refraining from smoking and excessive drinking can all have a huge impact on our health.

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