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National Indicator: Premature Mortality

This national indicator is currently being reported on the new national performance website and can be found here: https://nationalperformance.gov.scot/measuring-progress/national-indicator-performance


l Reduce premature mortality

Indicator Measure
European Age-Standardised mortality rates (based on the 2013 European Standard Population) per 100,000 for people aged under 75 in Scotland

Current Status
In 2016, premature mortality remained very similar to 2015, which was itself the first year-to-year increase on record.  However, premature mortality is currently sixteen per cent lower than in 2006, the baseline year.  Premature mortality in 2016 is at its third lowest level over the full time series.
1997 to 2016

Source: Scottish Government Health Analytical Services
The data for this chart is available at the bottom of the page.

Last Update: 2 August 2017
Next Update: August 2018

Reduce premature mortality

Why is this National Indicator important?
What will influence this National Indicator?
What is the Government's role?
How is Scotland performing?
What more do we know about this National Indicator?
Criteria for recent change
Further information
Who are our partners?
Related Strategic Objectives

Why is this National Indicator important?

Premature mortality - defined as death from all causes, aged under 75 - is an important indicator of the overall health of the population. Scotland has the highest rates of pre-mature mortality in the UK, as well as significant inequalities in premature mortality within Scotland. Health inequalities are not just unfair for people who are adversely affected, but are also bad for the country as a whole. By holding back those who can and want to make a contribution to Scotland's prosperity, inequalities in health and other social outcomes are a very real barrier to achieving the Scottish Government's Purpose.

This indicator will help monitor general population health, as well as progress in reducing health inequalities in Scotland.

What will influence this National Indicator?

Delivering significant and sustainable improvements in health requires a focus on the underlying causes of poor health and inequalities. Poor health is not simply due to diet, smoking or other life style choices, but also the result of other factors such as people's aspirations, sense of control and cultural factors. Ensuring children have the best start in life, tackling poverty, reducing unemployment, promoting mental wellbeing, increasing educational attainment and improving poor physical and social environments will, therefore, all contribute to reducing premature mortality. This needs to be complemented by specific action on the "big killer" diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and cancer where some of the risk factors, such as smoking, are strongly linked to deprivation, as well as addressing drug and alcohol problems and links to violence that affect younger men in particular.

What is the Government's role?

The Scottish Government's role is to ensure a continued focus on improving health and reducing inequalities, through its ongoing commitment to allocating resources to preventative activity. This will also involve working with partners across the public sector to ensure a collaborative approach to the delivery of public services which influence effectively the range of circumstances that contribute to people's health and wellbeing. This means Community Planning Partnerships (CPPs) delivering genuinely integrated services, through partnership working and shared resources, which target the underlying causes of inequalities. It means that the third sector should be actively involved. It also means that communities themselves must be engaged and consulted and the continued promotion of assets-based approaches to service delivery. The Scottish Government also has a direct role in ensuring the healthcare service delivers on all of the dimensions of the Quality Strategy, which will contribute to improving population health.

How is Scotland performing?

Premature mortality reduced year-on-year every year on record until 2014.  In 2015, premature mortality rates increased for the first time and have remained at a similar level for 2016.

Despite the higher mortality rate after 2014, premature mortality rates are currently 16 per cent lower than a decade ago.

The data is available at the bottom of the page.

What more do we know about this National Indicator?

In 2014, Premature mortality was 36 per cent lower for females than for males, however there has been a long downward trend for both males and females. Between 2013 and 2014 premature mortality decreased by 3 per cent for males and 4 per cent for females and since 2006, the baseline year, premature mortality has fallen by 20 per cent for males and 17 per cent for females.

The increase in mortality between 2014 and 2015 is likely to be due to the impact of the specific flu strain prevalent over the winter period, which also ran for a longer period of time than usual.  Similar patterns were seen in a number of other European countries.

Premature mortality rates have remained almost three times as high in the 20% most deprived areas compared to the least deprived areas in Scotland since 2008. In rural areas, mortality rates have consistently been lower than in urban areas.  Premature mortality is most prevalent in large urban areas.

The data is available at the bottom of the page.

Criteria for recent change

Any difference in the percentage within +/- 2 per cent of last year's figure suggests that the position is more likely to be maintaining than showing any change.  A decrease of 2 per cent or more suggests the position is improving; whereas an increase of 2 per cent or more suggests the position is worsening.

Further Information

For information on general methodological approach, please click here.

Scotland Performs Technical Note

Who are our partners?

Community Planning Partnerships


Local Authorities

NHS Scotland


Third Sector

Related Strategic Objectives


Safer and Stronger


Wealthier and Fairer

View National Indicator Data

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Title:Reduce premature mortality
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