THE life expectancy gap between the richest and poorest in Glasgow is bigger now than it was 20 years ago, a major new study shows.
According to the latest data, from 2019, men in Greater Govan can expect to reach an average age of 65.4 years, compared with 83 in Pollokshields West – a gap of 17.6 years. The equivalent gap in 2001-2005 was 15.3 years.
At 86 the average female life expectancy in Anniesland, Jordanhill & Whiteinch is 13.4 years higher than in Ruchill and Possilpark (72.7 years). The equivalent gap in 2001-05 was 11.1 years.
Men living in the most deprived areas of Glasgow, on average can expect to live 15.4 years less than those in the most affluent parts – from 2000-2002 there was a difference of 12.4 years.
For women, the gap has increased from 8.6 to 11.6 years and life expectancy for females in the poorest areas has been dropping for the past few years.
UK Government austerity measures have been attributed for the trend, which pre-dates the Covid pandemic, but one of the lead researchers said more could be done in Scotland to reduce inequalities, which have led to Glasgow having the lowest life expectancy in the UK.
A major analysis of changes seen in Scotland’s largest city over the past year in areas including health, housing and education provides a mixed picture.
More than 35% of children under 15 live in the most deprived parts of the city and child poverty has increased. However, school leaver results have steadily improved over the past two decades.
Homelessness has halved in the last 20 years but in 2019/20, there were still over 5,200 homeless households in Glasgow, a figure which had risen by over 10% from the previous year and it disproportionately affects children.
Glasgow’s population has grown substantially in the last 15 years, but the strongest population growth has been seen in the most affluent areas.
The percentage of school leavers in Glasgow leaving with good qualifications has increased steadily.
In 2019/20, 92.8% of school leavers from the city had a positive destination including 71% going onto higher or further education. “Nevertheless, there is a widely recognised socioeconomic-related gap in educational attainment”, the study said.
Voter turnout in Glasgow has risen in the past two decades, from 46% at the 2001 UK General Election to 60% at the 2019 UK General Election.
After low turnouts between 2003 and 2011, it rose at the Scottish Parliamentary from 41% overall in 2011 to 56% at the most recent election in May 2021.
The study – ‘Health in a Changing City: Glasgow 2021 – shows that women, children and young people, minority ethnic groups, people with disabilities, and those on low pay or in precarious employment have been most adversely affected over the past two decades.
The number of sexual offences against women in Scotland has more than doubled in the last ten years, with the highest numbers occurring in Glasgow.
Evidence suggests that abuse within LGBTQ+ relationships is similar or slightly higher than heterosexual relationships.
The study recommends that the Scottish Government should lead a national inquiry into sexual harassment in all aspects of females lives in Scotland (including those who identify as female), similar to that carried out in Australia.
The percentage of children (aged 0-16 years) living in low-income families ranged from 2.7% in Carmunnock to 70.6% in Govanhill.
The report pre-dates the pandemic but includes some analysis of key trends.
Employment dropped in Scotland and in the UK during the pandemic, but remained at the same level in the Glasgow City Region (GCR) and rose in Glasgow City.
However, low levels pre-pandemic meant that Glasgow’s employment rate was still below the Scottish and UK averages and was the second lowest within the region.
Overall, areas with high claimant counts pre-pandemic were likely to experience the highest increases in case numbers. However, many of the largest proportional increases were in areas where the previous claimant count was lowest including in Pollockshields West.
Govanhill, which had the eighth highest claimant count in January 2020, had the highest count of all neighbourhoods by January 2021.
Transport usage trends over the study period showed limited signs of a shift toward less travel and more sustainable modes of transport.
Despite more positive transitory changes during the early lockdown phases of the pandemic, car use has almost returned to pre-Covid-19 levels and public transport use remains depressed, in part due to concerns over the risk of virus transmission on buses and trains.
Commenting on the analysis Bruce Whyte, one of the lead researchers said: “Most commentators, most academics are relating the slowdown in life expectancy being seen across the UK to austerity policies.
“What we are seeing in Glasgow is worse because female life expectancy has dropping for the past few years.
“I would speculate that women living in deprived circumstances are likely to have been one of the groups most vulnerable to the effects of austerity policy after the financial crash.
“Women suffer from a gender pay gap, are disproportionately represented in lowly paid professions and part- time unskilled work and are more likely to be dependent on welfare support.
“Woman also tend to shoulder the majority of caring and domestic responsibilities in families across the generations. And child poverty has been rising in Glasgow, which is likely to affect women more than men and particularly those in lone parent families.”
“There are some policies in Scotland which we think are positive. During the pandemic that Scottish Child Payment came in and that’s currently £10 and there is a commitment to increase that to £20.
“Also during the pandemic there was protection brought in for Universal Credit and we’ve recommended that is maintained because if it isn’t things are going to get worse.
“Paying a living wage and addressing the gender pay gap are also crucial.
“Obviously the UK has more control over fiscal policy but there are things that could be done by the Scottish Government – arguably more could be done in taxation.”