From February 2017, information about the work of the MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow is available and updated on the University of Glasgow website.

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New research has demonstrated that life expectancy in Glasgow is very similar to the life expectancy of Aberdeen, Dundee and Edinburgh (combined) despite previous studies suggesting Glasgow’s population health differs when compared to populations outside of Scotland.

Measuring life expectancy inequalities between Scottish cities

posted on: Oct 19, 2015

Area level socioeconomic deprivation has widely been shown to be associated with mortality and life expectancy in many countries - with the most deprived areas having higher mortality and lower life expectancy compared to the least deprived areas which have lower mortality and higher life expectancy. Previous research suggested that Glasgow’s socioeconomic deprivation profile did not fully account for why it experienced higher mortality when compared with similar cities in England and elsewhere in Western Europe. The excess of deaths that were not explained by deprivation was deemed ‘the Glasgow effect’ and widely reported in the media.

It remains unclear as to why Glasgow only might experience an excess of deaths and if this excess exists compared to a comparable Scottish population. If the excess of deaths still occurred when using a comparable Scottish population this could suggest that there is something unique to the mortality experience in Glasgow only. If the excess of deaths did not occur when compared to a comparable Scottish population this could suggest that mortality in Glasgow is actually very similar to mortality elsewhere in Scotland once the socioeconomic deprivation profile has been accounted for.

In the latest research, published in BMC Public Health, population estimates, number of deaths and the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) data were used to calculate detailed life expectancy estimates by socioeconomic deprivation for the population of Glasgow and the population of Aberdeen, Dundee and Edinburgh (combined). By combining the population of Scotland’s three other major cities a population similar in size was created.  Before accounting for socioeconomic deprivation Glasgow did demonstrate a significantly lower life expectancy than Aberdeen, Dundee and Edinburgh (combined). Once deprivation differences between Glasgow and Aberdeen, Dundee and Edinburgh (combined) had been accounted for Glasgow’s life expectancy was not significantly different.  This indicates that poorer population health in Glasgow may not be unique to the city and is attributable to higher levels of socioeconomic deprivation. Therefore reducing high levels of socioeconomic deprivation in Glasgow is required to reduce inequalities in life expectancy between Glasgow and the other major cities in Scotland and in turn could improve Scotland’s public health standing when compared to other European countries.  

The full article is available here.