Rising premature mortality in the U.K.'s persistently deprived areas: only a Scottish phenomenon?

Soc Sci Med. 2011 Dec;73(11):1575-84. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2011.09.034. Epub 2011 Oct 13.


In the international literature, many studies find strong relationships between area-based measures of deprivation and mortality. In the U.K., mortality rates have generally fallen in recent decades but the life expectancy gap between the most and least deprived areas has widened, with a number of Scottish studies highlighting increased mortality rates in deprived areas especially in Glasgow. However, these studies relate health outcomes at different time points against period-specific measures of deprivation which may not be comparable over time. Using longitudinal deprivation measures where levels of area deprivation are made comparable over time, a recent study demonstrated how levels of mortality change in relation to changing or persistent levels of (non-) deprivation over time. The results showed that areas which were persistently deprived in Scotland experienced a rise in premature mortality rates by 9.5% between 1981 and 2001. Here, focussing on persistently deprived areas we extended the coverage to the whole of the U.K. to assess whether, between 1991 and 2001, rising premature mortality rates in persistently deprived areas are a Scottish only phenomenon or whether similar patterns are evident elsewhere and for men and women separately. We found that male premature mortality rates rose by over 14% in Scotland over the 10-year period between the early 1990s and 2000s in persistently deprived areas. We found no significant rise in mortality elsewhere in the U.K. and that the rise among men in Scotland was driven by results for Glasgow where mortality rates rose by over 15% during the decade. Our analyses demonstrate the importance of identifying areas experiencing persistent poverty. These results justify even more of a public health focus on Glasgow and further work is needed to understand the demographic factors, such as health selective migration, immobility and population residualisation, which may contribute to these findings.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Cause of Death / trends*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Life Expectancy / ethnology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mortality, Premature / ethnology*
  • Mortality, Premature / trends
  • Poverty Areas*
  • Scotland / epidemiology
  • Sex Distribution
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology
  • Young Adult