Healthy life expectancy: key points
Life expectancy (LE) is an estimate of how many years a person might be expected to live, whereas healthy life expectancy (HLE) is an estimate of how many years they might live in a 'healthy' state. HLE is a key summary measure of a population's health.
Note: There is a major discontinuity in the HLE series between 2008 and 2009 due to a change in methodology to align with the European Union. This results in estimates of HLE at birth from 2009 onwards being over eight years lower for each sex. The 2009 estimates form the start of a new time trend.
- The most recent annual estimates for Scotland are for boys born in 2015 to live 76.9 years on average, 59.9 of these in a 'healthy' state. Girls born in 2015 would be expected to live 81.0 years on average, 62.3 of these years being 'healthy'.
- Although there has been a small decrease from 2014 (0.5 years for males and 0.4 years for females), underlying trends in LE at birth show a general improvement in Scotland over recent years.
- The gap between LE and HLE (the years expected to be spent in a 'not healthy' state during the average lifetime) has been fairly constant for females between 1980 and 2008, but tended to increase for males.
- Time trends show that the gap between the sexes, in both LE and HLE at birth, has narrowed over time. For LE at birth, the difference between males and females was 6.4 years in 1980, falling to 4.1 years in 2015. For HLE at birth, the difference between males and females was 3.3 years in 1980, falling to 2.4 years in 2015.
- LE and HLE are lower in Scotland than in the UK as a whole, for both males and females. For further details see the UK comparisons page.
- Scotland has one of the lowest life expectancies in Western Europe. International comparisons of HLE are hampered by the lack of consistent health measures. However, on the basis of a related indicator, healthy life years (HLY), it would appear that, in comparison with many European countries, Scotland fares badly for males but compares better for females. For further details see the International comparisons page.
- The last major update of this section was completed in December 2016. It included 2015 HLE estimates for Scotland.
- The next major update is due to be carried out in December 2017.