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Life expectancy stalls as population hits record high

Men now expected to live until they're 77 and women until they're aged 81 in Scotland.

More than 5.4m people now live in Scotland.
More than 5.4m people now live in Scotland.

Life expectancy in Scotland has fallen slightly in recent years after increasing over the past three decades, new statistics show.

The average life expectancy for a woman is now 81.1 years and for a man 77 years, figures in the National Records of Scotland (NRS) report Scotland's Population 2018 show.

A slowdown in the number of people living longer with heart disease, an increase in drug-related deaths and a rise in people aged over 75 dying with dementia are among the reasons for the decrease outlined in the report.

Deprivation was found to have a strong effect on life expectancy, with figures showing girls born in 2015-2017 in the 10% most deprived areas of Scotland can expect to die 9.6 years earlier than those who live in the 10% least deprived areas.

For males, the difference in life expectancy between the 10% most deprived and 10% least deprived areas is 13 years.

Paul Lowe, the Registrar General for Scotland, said: "Life expectancy in Scotland has been increasing over the long-term but recent estimates indicate that it has stopped improving.

"The largest causes of the stall in life expectancy are the slowing of improvements seen in the reduction of deaths from heart disease and increases in drug-related deaths."

Scotland's population has risen for the ninth year and is at its highest level at 5.44m, with migration the main driver of growth.

The number of births continued to fall in 2018 with 51,308 live births registered in 2018, the lowest annual total since 2002.

The report found the number of deaths has continued to increase, with 58,503 registered in 2018, a 1.1% increase on 2017.

Meanwhile, Scotland's total fertility rate is the lowest in the UK and falling at a faster rate than all other UK countries. In 2018, the total fertility rate for Scotland was 1.42.

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: "While Scotland's total population is the highest it's ever been, and it is welcome that people are living longer, we face a number of challenges.

"Against a backdrop of a record fall in the birth rate, Scotland's population is ageing with a shift in population from the west to east and declining population in rural areas.

"With all of Scotland's population growth predicted to come from migration, the impact and risk of Brexit means that we may not have a large enough working age population to support public services, industries and our economy."

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