Scottish Longitudinal Study
Development & Support Unit

Completed Projects

Project Title:

Exploring the impact of selective migration on the deprivation mortality gap within Greater Glasgow

Project Number:



Paul Boyle (University of St Andrews)
Frank Popham(University of St Andrews)
Dermot O'Reilly (Queen's University Belfast)
Alastair Leyland(University of Glasgow)

Start Date:

Approved on 13-10-2009


Using data, primarily, from individuals appearing in both the 1991 and 2001 censuses the questions are:

  • Is selective internal migration (within Scotland) responsible for widening socio-economic differences within Greater Glasgow?
  • Have the increasing socio-economic differences within Greater Glasgow’s population been due primarily to a net gain of more deprived individuals or to a net loss of more affluent residents?
  • Is there a difference in the mortality experience of those people who migrate from and to the most deprived areas within Greater Glasgow compared to those who remain?
  • To what extent does selective internal migration contribute to widening inequalities assessed by area deprivation within Greater Glasgow?

In a previous project using the SLS (2008_0010 – that was funded by the CSO), we explored the role of selective migration on Glasgow’s widening health gap relative to the rest of Scotland. The present project (funded by the Glasgow Centre for Population Health) aims to build on this by studying the role of selective migration on the widening deprivation mortality gap within Greater Glasgow.

Within Glasgow, and its surrounding areas (Greater Glasgow), there is large variation in mortality by deprivation that has widened in recent years. For example, while affluent areas have seen life expectancy rise since 1981 in line with national trends, the most deprived areas within the Glasgow region have seen very small average improvements (for women) and a slightly decline (for men) in life expectancy meaning that the gap has risen between the best off and worst off1. The differences in mortality within Greater Glasgow are particularly apparent for premature mortality.

One possible explanation for these widening mortality trends within Greater Glasgow, which has been relatively ignored to date, is selective migration. There is growing evidence that selective migration, whereby there is a net movement of the economically better-off and healthier residents away from the relatively more deprived areas, and the residualisation of unhealthy people in more deprived areas, can have a significant impact on the spatial distribution of ill-health2-5.

Within the Greater Glasgow area there have been dramatic shifts in population in recent years with a rapid decline in the numbers of people living in the most deprived areas and slight growth in more affluent areas1. The aim of this project is to explore the impact of these population changes on the widening mortality gap.


  1. Hanlon P, Walsh D, & Whyte, B. Let Glasgow Flourish. Glasgow: Glasgow Centre for Population Health, 2006

  2. Norman P, Boyle P, Rees P. Selective migration, health and deprivation: a longitudinal analysis. Soc Sci Med 2005; 60: 2755-2771

  3. Brimblecombe N; Dorling D; Shaw M. Mortality and migration in Britain, first results from the British Household Panel Survey. Soc Sci Med 1999; 49: 981-988

  4. O'Reilly D, Stevenson M. Selective migration from deprived areas in Northern Ireland and the spatial distribution of inequalities: implications for monitoring health and inequalities in health. Soc Sci Med 2003; 57: 1455-1462

  5. Connolly S, O'Reilly D, Rosato M. Has the increasing inequality in health in England and Wales been caused by the selective movement of people between areas? A 12-year mortality study using the Longitudinal Study. Social Science and Medicine 2007; 64: 2008-2015

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