Usher Institute

Ethnic minorities in Scotland live longer than White Scots

People of ethnic minority background in Scotland can expect to live several years longer than White Scots, a study has shown.

Researchers have found that Pakistani females had the longest expected life span of 84.6 years, more than five years longer than the 79.4 years of White Scottish females.

They were followed by Chinese (83.4), Indian (83.3) and Other White British (82.6) females,

Among males, those of Indian origin lived the longest. Their average lifespan of 80.9 years was 6.2 years longer than White Scottish males.

Pakistani (79.3), Chinese (79.0) and Other White British (78.9) males all did much better too.

Poor health record

The team analysed ethnicity data for more than 4.6 million people recorded in the 2001 Scottish census, and linked it with deaths recorded in Scotland over the next three years. 

All data was anonymised to ensure confidentiality.

Scientists say the results may be explained by the relatively poor health of White Scottish people compared with most of the larger ethnic groups. 

Lessons to learn

Lead researcher, Prof Laurence Gruer said that lifestyle choices may hold the key to a healthier future.

High levels of smoking and alcohol consumption have most probably contributed to the lower life expectancy of White Scots, along with poor diet and high levels of air pollution in previous decades. I hope we can learn lessons from ethnic minority communities that can be used to improve the health of the whole population

Prof Laurence GruerThe University's Usher Institute for Population Health Sciences

The findings have been published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.  

The research was funded by Scottish Chief Scientist Office and Cancer Research UK.

Related links

Journal article

Prof Laurence Gruer - staff profile