Skip to Content

Changing mortality rates in Scotland and the UK: an updated summary

Feb 2023

There is now a substantial body of evidence detailing unprecedented changes in mortality rates that have occurred in Scotland and across the wider UK over the past ten years. These trends, including increasing death rates among poorer communities and the end to decades of previously continual improvement at the country level, predate the COVID-19 pandemic but have been exacerbated by it.

Detailed research attributes these changes primarily to the implementation of UK Government austerity policies, which have negatively impacted the health of poorer populations across the UK. Since we published a critical assessment of all that evidence in 2022, additional significant research has emerged in the academic literature.

This summary paper:

(i) briefly summarises that new evidence; and

(ii) updates previously-published mortality trends for Scotland and its largest cities to include the most recent years of available data.

In accomplishing the above, this paper provides further evidence of detrimental changes to various aspects of population health: a further widening of all-cause and cause-specific mortality inequalities, a dramatic reversal of previously declining mortality rates among socioeconomically deprived populations, an unprecedented decline in healthy life expectancy, and worsening trends in poor mental health. The (much smaller) contribution of obesity to stalled national mortality trends is also quantified.

Changing mortality rates in Scotland and the UK an updated summary

pdf | 3.01MB


Back to

Publications and resources