Health can be thought of and measured in many ways, as positive or negative well-being/mental health, length of life, absence of disease, freedom from disability, mortality and in terms of lifestyle and behaviour. 

Our overview of health in Glasgow shows that, while health in Glasgow has improved over the last two centuries and as a result Glaswegians are living longer than ever before, comparatively the city has one of the poorest health profiles of any Scottish or UK city. This is in part because improvements in health have lagged behind other comparable cities in the UK. Recent stalling life expectancy trends, linked to UK austerity policies, have been followed by sharp drops in life expectancy across the UK caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.   

Click on our infographic to see the key facts from this indicator set. 

The following summary provides some of the key health statistics for Glasgow:Life Expectancy infographic - if you require an accessible version or transcript, please email info@gcph.co.uk

  • Since the early 1990s, estimated male life expectancy at birth in the city increased by 4.7 years (from 68.2 years to 72.9 years) and by 3 years for females (from 75 years to 78 years) 
  • In the latest period reported (2019-21), male life expectancy at birth was 3.6 years less than in Scotland as a whole while Glaswegian women were predicted to live for 2.8 years less on average
  • Glasgow has the lowest healthy life expectancy (HLE) in Scotland with men estimated to live for 54.6 years in good health and women for 57.6 years (2017-19). 
  • There are wide geographic (and socio-economic) health inequalities exemplified by a 17-year gap in male life expectancy at birth across Glasgow’s neighbourhoods and an equivalent 13-year gap in female life expectancy (in the period 2015-19)
  • In the last two decades, inequalities in life expectancy have widened further. Male life expectancy is 15.4 years lower in the 10% of most deprived areas of Glasgow compared to the 10% of least deprived of the city and the equivalent gap for women has widened to 11.6 years (in the period 2017-19)  
  • Glaswegian men and women have the lowest healthy life expectancy in Scotland compared to other local authorities. The predicted period of life spent 'not in good health' is 16.7 years for men and 20 years for women (in the period 2009-2013)
  • 24% of working age adults report having a disability (2011)
  • Mental well-being has been consistently lower in Glasgow than in other Scottish cities

(Sources: GCPH, National Records of Scotland, Office for National Statistics, Scottish Health Survey, ScotPHO)

In the health domain of Understanding Glasgow, we illustrate health trends and compare health within the city and with other areas. The indicators we show include disability, life expectancy, healthy life expectancy and mental well-being

Demographics finalIn March 2016 the GCPH published Glasgow: health in a changing city, a report that examined life expectancy trends and inequalities in the city over the last two decades. The study also described changes in population, housing, environmental and socio-economic circumstances at a city and neighbourhood level.

Research on the impact of austerity on mortality and life expectancy can be accessed on the GCPH website. The most recent paper on the likely impact of UK austerity policies was published in October 2022: ‘Bearing the burden of austerity: how do changing mortality rates in the UK compare between men and women?

The children's indicators section of Understanding Glasgow contains more detailed information on aspects of the children's health and wellbeing within Glasgow. Information on births and deaths is included in the population section. Information on Satisfaction and happiness and suicide is included in the mindset section.

Information on a range of health and health related indicators - cultural factors, environmental, socio-economic, education and poverty-related - at a neighbourhood level within Glasgow are available in our profile section.

The data on the Understanding Glasgow website comes from a variety of administrative sources and surveys, and the frequency of updates to these sources varies. The graphs and text on each page should indicate the period to which an indicator refers. In some cases, where more recently published data is not available, we still use older published sources, such as the 2011 Census. Find out more about the timeliness of data presented on this website.

This page was last updated in October 2022.

Additional Resources

  • Resource
    Thursday, 26 May 2011

    Your Better Life Index

    A new, interactive index allowing users to measure and compare their lives.
  • Resource
    Wednesday, 18 May 2011

    Investigating a 'Glasgow Effect'

    Why do equally deprived UK cities experience different health outcomes?
  • Resource
    Monday, 14 February 2011

    Population with a Disability in Glasgow

    2008 Estimates for Glasgow City, Community Planning Partnership areas and Social Work Services Planning areas.
  • Resource
    Sunday, 1 November 2009

    Miniature Glasgow - Video

    An extension of the GCPH's work profiling Glasgow's health, produced in collaboration with the International Future Forum.
  • Resource
    Wednesday, 19 August 2009

    A Games Legacy for Glasgow

    Brochure outlining the potential legacy of Glasgow's role as Commonwealth Games host city in 2014.
  • Resource
    Friday, 17 July 2009

    Views of Health in Glasgow - Video

    Originally produced for an international audience at a conference in Pittsburgh, USA, this film provides insights on health concerns and beliefs drawn from interviews with Glaswegians themselves and with a group of health experts.
  • Resource
    Monday, 3 April 2006

    Let Glasgow Flourish

    A comprehensive report on health and its determinants in Glasgow and West Central Scotland
View more Resources »