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Mortality in the United Kingdom, 2010

Released: 20 January 2012 Download PDF

Figure 1: Age-standardised mortality rates by sex, UK and constituent countries

This chart shows the age-standardised mortality rates by sex, for the UK and constituent countiries from 1980 to 2010
Source: Office for National Statistics

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In 2010, the age-standardised mortality rates in the UK for males and females were 655 and 467 deaths per 100,000 population respectively, the lowest rates ever recorded.

Between 1980 and 2010 age-standardised mortality rates for males and females have declined by 48 per cent and 39 per cent respectively. Male mortality rates have been higher than females throughout the 30 year period, but because rates for males have fallen at a faster rate, the gap between male and female mortality has decreased.

Within the UK there is some variation in mortality rates between the constituent countries. In 2010, Scotland had the highest mortality rates for both males and females, 785 and 552 deaths per 100,000 population respectively whereas England had the lowest rates for males and females, 638 and 456 deaths per 100,000 population respectively. Northern Ireland has experienced the largest declines in mortality for both males (51 per cent) and females (43 per cent) since 1980. In contrast males and females in Scotland have shown the smallest declines in mortality rates over the last 30 years at 44 per cent and 35 per cent respectively.

Throughout recent years, UK mortality rates have generally fallen due to medical advances in the treatment of various illnesses and diseases, illustrated by the reduction in age-standardised mortality rates for many causes of death. In recent years circulatory diseases, as a cause of death, have seen the greatest fall in age standardised mortality within the UK.

Figure 2: Percentage distribution of all deaths by age group for selected years, UK

This chart shows the percentage distribution of all deaths by age-group for selected years for the UK. Data is displayed for 1980, 1990, 2000 and 2010
Source: Office for National Statistics

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Figure 2 shows that for both males and females in the UK, the percentage of deaths registered to people aged less than 80 years has decreased over the period 1980 to 2010, and consequently increased for those aged 80 and over. This is known as the ageing of mortality and this pattern is observed for all of the UK’s constituent countries. The ageing of mortality is also demonstrated through increasing life expectancy across all UK countries. For more information on life expectancy see: Release for Interim Life Tables, 2008-2010

 In 1980, more than half of all male deaths (59 per cent) and just under half of all female deaths (45 per cent) were registered to those aged 60 to 79 years; by 2010 these proportions had fallen to 42 per cent of all male deaths and 29 per cent of all female deaths. In contrast, the proportion of UK deaths registered to those aged 80 years or over has risen from 21 per cent for males and 43 per cent for females in 1980 to 43 per cent and 62 per cent respectively in 2010. This is illustrated by the ageing of mortality discussed above, and is due to increasing numbers of people aged 80 and over as a result of increasing life expectancy. As the UK population continues to age, the percentage of all UK deaths at age 80 and over is also expected to continue increasing. For more information on the ageing population see: Ageing mapping tool

The percentage of deaths registered to the youngest age group in the UK decreased between 1980 and 2000, but has remained stable over the last 10 years. For males and females aged less than 15, the percentage of registered deaths has fallen from 2 per cent of all UK deaths in 1980 to 1 per cent in 2010; this is due to falling death rates for those aged less than 15 in the UK.

Source: Office for National Statistics

Background notes

  1. The age-standardised mortality rates cover all ages and are directly standardised to the European Standard Population, expressed per 100,000 population. They allow meaningful comparisons between populations with different age structures, including between males and females and over time.

  2. Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available by visiting or from the Media Relations Office email:

Content from the Office for National Statistics.
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