The Glasgow Effect
The people of Scotland have one of the lowest average life expectancies in all of Europe. This average is heavily skewed by the people of Glasgow, where life expectancy can be as low as 54 years in some areas. Poverty is a partial explanation, but there are plenty of cities in the UK that are just as deprived and experience a much lower rate of premature death. The usual candidates of smoking, alcohol, and drugs are also significant factors, but Glasgow’s life expectancy is inexplicably low, even when all of that is taken into account.
This phenomenon has been called the Glasgow effect, but no one knows what causes it. There are numerous competing theories, blaming everything from the weather to the local culture to political scheming from both sides of the spectrum. It’s not just Glasgow—the figures for Scotland as a whole don’t look great. Life expectancy has been increasing more slowly than in many places, as other countries that used to lag behind Scotland’s rate shoot ahead. The reasons are no better understood than those behind the Glasgow effect itself.