Scots born abroad have lower death rates, research shows

19 March 2018, 15:23

Glasgow

Most ethnic minority people who have come to live in Scotland have lower death rates than the white Scottish population, according to research.

Analysis led by the University of Edinburgh found that Chinese people have the lowest death rates, followed by those from Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi ethnic groups.

The team said the findings contradict a perception that immigrants and ethnic minorities are a "burden" on health care services.

They looked at the records of more than four million people who died in Scotland between 2001 and 2013, noting their ethnic group and country of birth.

Researchers found that both males and females in most ethnic minority groups had lower death rates than the white Scottish population.

The death rates for Chinese males of all ages were found to be almost half those of the white Scottish population.

People who identified as "other British" or "other white" also had a survival advantage, the study found, as did white Scottish people born abroad.

However, white Irish men had similar death rates and males from a mixed background had slightly higher death rates.

Researchers said the effects were similar even when they took people's socio-economic status into account.

Differences in health-related behaviours could be a key reason for the trend, they added.

Lead researcher Professor Raj Bhopal, of the university's Usher Institute of Population Health Sciences and Informatics, said: "Many people are surprised to learn that ethnic minority populations, and particularly those born abroad, have lower mortality than the Scottish population.

"The findings contradict the widely held perception that immigrants and ethnic minorities are a burden on the health and health care of our society.

"In fact, we have a great deal to learn in Scotland about how to improve the health of the whole population, particularly the white Scottish people."

The study was carried out in collaboration with the universities of Aberdeen and Glasgow and with the NHS's Information Services Division.

Published in the journal PLOS Medicine, it was funded by the Scottish Chief Scientist's Office and supported by NHS Health Scotland.