Why Scots die young

There's a lot of beating about the bush in the report below so perhaps it falls to me to tell the real story.

Scots in Scotland today are a very socialist lot. Add to that a tradition of fighting and you have a very "Bolshie" lot, not to put too fine a point on it.

The hard-working and enterprising Scots have long ago emigrated elsewhere -- if only to England but also notably to North America and Australasia.

So having to work makes Scots resentful and in the postwar era they gradually destroyed most of their traditional industries (shipbuilding, floorcoverings etc.) by constantly going on strike -- leaving them very welfare dependant. In many Scottish households now no-one has worked for generations.

And with nothing to do and no hope for the future, the chief entertainment for their young men became sticking shivs into one another on Saturday night. Glasgow (where about half of all Scots live) is one of the world's most violent cities. And a shiv (home-made stabbing knife) in your ribs is not good for your health or your survival

Scotland's shorter life expectancy is not just due to higher rates of smoking and drinking and a poor diet but is also the result of decades of bad political decisions, according to researchers.

The country's mortality rate is markedly higher than in other European countries, including the rest of the UK.

This has been caused by a range of factors influenced by the political direction of the last 60 years, and in particular since 1980, a study by NHS Health Scotland claims.

Scientists identified and tested a range of reasons for why those living in Scotland die at a younger age; they found no single cause.

These included migration, genetics, individual values, substance abuse, climate, inequalities, deindustrialisation and 'political attack'.

The researchers found that between 1950 and 1980 life expectancy in Scotland started to diverge from elsewhere in Europe.

They believe this was linked to higher deprivation due to industrial employment patterns, housing and urban environments, community and family dynamics, and negative health behaviour cultures.

From 1980, they attribute the country's higher mortality to the political direction taken by the governments of the day, and the consequent hopelessness and community disruption that was experienced as a result.

The study said: 'For over half a century, Scotland has suffered from higher mortality than comparably wealthy countries, and for the last 30 years has suffered from a new and troubling mortality pattern.

'It is unlikely that any single cause is entirely responsible, and there is uncertainty around why Scotland started to diverge from elsewhere in Europe around 1950.

'It is clearer that the health and social patterns that emerged from the 1980s are more closely linked to negative health behaviours (eg alcohol consumption), but these behaviours are, in turn, heavily influenced and shaped by the social, cultural and economic disruption which occurred as the political and economic policies of the UK changed from the late 1970s.'

Other factors, such as alcohol, smoking, unemployment, housing and inequality are all important, the scientists said, but require an explanation as to why Scotland was disproportionately affected.

Lead researcher Dr Gerry McCartney said: 'It is increasingly recognised that it is insufficient to try to explain health trends by simply looking at the proximal causes such as smoking or alcohol.

'Income inequality, welfare policy and unemployment do not occur by accident, but as a product of the politics pursued by the government of the day.

'In this study we looked at the "causes of the causes" of Scotland's health problems.'

The study is published in the journal Public Health.


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