Page last updated at 10:39 GMT, Wednesday, 21 October 2009 11:39 UK

Big variation in life expectancy

Babies in the south can expect to live longest

Babies born in Scotland have the average lowest life expectancy in the UK, latest figures show.

The Office for National Statistics figures for 2006-08 show males in Scotland can expect to live to 75 years, and females to 79.9 years.

In contrast, males in the south-east of England have the highest life expectancy, at 79.2 years, with females in the South West top at 83.1 years.

Life expectancy has improved in all areas between 1991-93 and 2006-08.

The biggest improvements were in London, which had increases of 4.9 years for males and 3.4 years for females.

The smallest increases were in Scotland for males (3.5 years) and in Wales for females (2.4 years).

Regions Males Females
1991-3 2006-8 1991-3 2006-8
UK 73.4 77.4 78.8 81.6
England 73.6 77.7 79 81.9
North East 72 76.4 77.4 80.6
North West 72.4 76.3 77.9 80.6
Yorkshire and The Humber 73.1 77.1 78.6 81.3
East Midlands 73.7 77.8 79 81.8
West Midlands 73.2 77.2 78.7 81.6
East of England 75 78.9 80.1 82.7
London 73.3 78.2 79.3 82.7
South East 74.9 79.2 80.1 83
South West 74.9 79 80.3 83.1
Wales 73.2 76.9 78.8 81.2
Scotland 71.5 75 77.1 79.9
Northern Ireland 72.7 76.3 78.6 81.2

In the same period the gap between male and female life expectancy at birth narrowed in the UK - from 5.4 years in 1991-93 to 4.2 years in 2006-08.

In 2006-08 the widest gaps between males and females were in Northern Ireland and Scotland (4.9 years).

Across the UK, the average life expectancy at birth for males in 2006-08 was 77.4 years, up four years on 1991-93.

For females the UK average was 81.6 years, up 2.8 years on 1991-93.

In 2006-08, average life expectancy at age 65 for the UK was 17.4 years for males, up 3.2 years from 1991-93. For females it rose by 2.1 years to 20 years.

Locally, Kensington and Chelsea recorded the highest average life expectancy at birth - 84.3 years for males and 88.9 years for females.

Glasgow City was the area which recorded the lowest average life expectancy at birth - 70.7 years for men and 77.2 years for women.

Professor Alan Maryon-Davis, president of the UK Faculty of Public Health, said: "It's good to see life expectancy increasing across the UK - and that men are steadily catching up.

"But the north/south divide remains and seems to be largely linked with deprivation.

"To close that gap we must keep improving the way our most disadvantaged communities live, learn, work and play - all of which profoundly affect health."

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