Trends in Life Expectancy in Glasgow and Scotland over 198 years

The graph below compares trends in male and female life expectancy at birth in Glasgow and Scotland over nearly 200 years.

LE Scot Glas hist trendClick to expand

  • Life expectancy for Glaswegian (and Scottish) men and women started to improve from the mid 1870s onwards and has followed a consistent upward trajectory – excluding certain periods, such as the war years - over the last 150 years.

  • However, in the last 6 years (prior to the Covid-19 pandemic) life expectancy increases had stalled in Scotland and life expectancy in Glasgow had reduced. In the most recent year shown the impact of increased mortality due to the Covid-19 pandemic has led to a further reduction in life expectancy.
  • Life expectancy in Glasgow has been consistently lower than in Scotland.

  • There is a gender gap in life expectancy. In Glasgow in the late 1800s female life expectancy was only a couple of years longer than male life expectancy but then this gap widened considerably. More recently the gap started to narrow again. Currently female life expectancy in Glasgow is 5.1 years longer than for men.

The following trend graphs focus more specifically on the gap in life expectancy between Glasgow and Scotland and between men and women. 

Gap in Life Expectancy between males and females in Glasgow and Scotland over 148 years
LE Gap Scot v Glas hist
Click to expand

The gap in life expectancy between Glaswegian and Scottish males was nearly 10 years in the 1880s but had narrowed to 3.7 years by 2019; the equivalent gap for women had also been nearly 10 years in the 1880s but by 2018 had reduced to 2.7 years.

Gender gap in Life Expectancy compared between Glasgow and Scotland over 198 years
LE Gender Gap Scot v Glas hist
Click to expand

On average women live longer then men. At a Scottish level this gender-related gap in life expectancy increased during the 20th century, spiking during the second world war and peaking in the mid 1970s. Since then the deficit in male life expectancy compared to female life expectancy has reduced from 6.5 years to 4.2 years by 2019.

The gap in life expectancy between men and women in Glasgow followed a similar trajectory but peaked later, in 2001, when a girl's life expectancy at birth was 7.4 years longer than a boy's life expectancy at birth. Since this peak the gap has narrowed to 5.1 years over the last decade.


The estimates used in these graphs come from a variety of sources and life expectancy figures for Glasgow are only available for a limited number of years, leading to the need to construct a notional trend line between years. These caveats should be noted and limit the accuracy of interpretation.

NB. For simplicity of presentation the data on the graphs are presented for individual years, but in fact are based on 3 year averages e.g. life expectancy labelled as 2019 is actually an estimate for the period 2018-2020. This period includes the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic which reached Scotland early in 2020.

Additional Resources

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    Population with a Disability in Glasgow

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    Miniature Glasgow - Video

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    A Games Legacy for Glasgow

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    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.
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    Monday, 3 April 2006

    Let Glasgow Flourish

    A comprehensive report on health and its determinants in Glasgow and West Central Scotland
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