The Glasgow effect: 'We die young here - but you just get on with it'



A Guardian feature article (June 2016) on the collaborative research on 'excess mortality' in Glasgow and Scotland published in May 2016 as History, Politics and Vulnerability (Glasgow Cetre for Population Health). The report can be found here:

Period10 Jun 2016

Media coverage


Media coverage

  • TitleThe Glasgow effect: 'We die young here - but you just get on with it'
    Degree of recognitionInternational
    Media name/outletThe Guardian
    Media typeWeb
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
    DescriptionThe mystery of Glasgow’s “sick man of Europe” status started to rear its head more than half a century ago. But now, for the first time, researchers from the Glasgow Centre for Population Health (GCPH) claim to have found hard evidence of a number of key factors that explain it.

    In a new report, History, politics and vulnerability: explaining excess mortality, they claim a combination of the historic effects of overcrowding, poor city planning decisions throughout the 1960s, 70s and 80s and a democratic deficit – or lack of ability to control decisions that affect their lives – are among reasons why Glaswegians are vulnerable to premature death.

    The research has been endorsed by some heavy hitters including Sir Harry Burns, formerly the chief medical officer for Scotland, Tom Devine, professor of history at Edinburgh University, and Oxford University geography professor Danny Dorling. But the findings are not about eating fewer chips and stopping smoking; they are deeply political.

    According to Chik Collins, co-author of the report and professor of applied social sciences at the University of the West of Scotland, new research about “skimming the cream” of the city’s population to rehouse its “best” citizens in new towns, is particularly striking.

    The research based on Scottish Office documents released under the 30-year rule shows new towns such as Cumbernauld, East Kilbride and Irvine were populated by Glasgow’s skilled workforce and young families, while the city was left with “the old, the very poor and the almost unemployable”.

    In one policy document from 1971, entitled The Glasgow Crisis, it was noted that the city was in a socially and economically dangerous position as a result of the policy that amounted to “a very powerful case for drastic action to reverse present trends within the city”. The policies were pursed regardless.

    “The effect was to steer economic investment away from Glasgow, and to ‘redeploy’ population out of the city in a way that led to serious population imbalance; in particular the skilled and the young with families left, many to ‘overspill’ areas and new towns,” Collins explains.

    “These areas became the priority for investment while the peripheral estates in Glasgow got cheap housing, isolated from the city, and no amenities – resulting in anger and alienation.”
    Producer/AuthorKarin Goodwin
    PersonsChik Collins