Mortality and life expectancy statistics
- Data extracted in June 2016. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database. Planned article update: June 2017.
Life expectancy at birth rose rapidly during the last century due to a number of factors, including reductions in infant mortality, rising living standards, improved lifestyles and better education, as well as advances in healthcare and medicine.
- 1 Main statistical findings
- 2 Data sources and availability
- 3 Context
- 4 See also
- 5 Further Eurostat information
- 6 External links
Main statistical findings
In 2014, some 4.9 million persons died in the EU-28 — this was broadly in line with the annual number of deaths recorded over the previous four decades. A peak was reached in 1993 with 5.03 million deaths. The crude death rate, which is the number of deaths per 1 000 persons, was 9.7 in the EU-28 in 2014.
Life expectancy is increasing
The most commonly used indicator for analysing mortality is life expectancy at birth: the mean number of years that a person can expect to live at birth if subjected to current mortality conditions throughout the rest of his or her life. It is a simple but powerful way of illustrating the developments in mortality. The total number of deaths depends on the size of the population age groups (cohorts) reaching the end of their life cycle and on mortality rates. Economic development and the improvement in some environmental conditions (for example in many urban areas), improved lifestyles, advances in healthcare and medicine, including reduced infant mortality, have resulted in a continuous increase in life expectancy at birth across Europe during the last century. This process has been going on for longer in Europe than in most other parts of the world, placing the EU-28 among the world leaders for life expectancy. Over the past 50 years, life expectancy at birth has increased by about 10 years for both men and women in the EU-28. Further gains are expected to be achieved mostly from the reduction in mortality at older ages. Besides the reduction in fertility, the gradual reduction in mortality is the main factor contributing to the ageing of the population in the EU-28.
Life expectancy at birth in the EU-28 was estimated at 80.9 years in 2014, reaching 83.6 years for women and 78.1 years for men. During more than a decade, between 2002 (the first year for which data are available for all EU Member States) and 2014, life expectancy in the EU-28 increased by 3.2 years, from 77.7 to 80.9 years; the increase was 3.8 years for women and 2.7 years for men.
While life expectancy has risen in all EU Member States, there are still major differences between and within countries (see Table 1). For men, the lowest life expectancy in 2014 was recorded in Latvia (69.1 years) and the highest in Cyprus (80.9 years). For women, the range was narrower, from a low of 78.0 years in Bulgaria to a high of 86.2 years in Spain. For comparison, in 2010, the lowest and highest life expectancies were recorded in Lithuania (67.6 years) and Sweden (79.6) for men, and in Bulgaria (77.0 years) and Spain (85.5) for women.
In the 15 years between 2000 and 2014, the rise in life expectancy at birth for men in the EU Member States ranged from a minimum of 2.5 years (in Lithuania) to a maximum of 6.8 years (in Estonia). For women, the increase ranged from 2.2 years (in Sweden) to 5.5 years (in Estonia): note that the data for Latvia for 2000 are not available. In 2000, the differences between the highest and lowest life expectancies among EU Member States amounted to 11.8 years for men and 8.2 for women; the same differences were observed in 2014.
The increase in life expectancy among the EFTA countries between 2000 and 2014 was highest in Liechtenstein (5.1 years), while Switzerland, Norway and Iceland all recorded increases between 3.2 and 3.4 years. All the EFTA countries and the EU candidate countries recorded relatively low differences between life expectancy for men and for women, namely between 4.8 years in Montenegro and 2.3 years in Liechtenstein.
As people live longer, interest has shifted to the older generations. In 2014, once a man had reached the age of 65, he could, on average, expect to live between another 13.8 years (as in Latvia) and 19.7 years (as in France). The life expectancy of women at age 65 was higher. In 2014 it ranged from 17.6 years in Bulgaria to 24.0 years in France — see Figure 4 and Table 2).
The gender gap is shrinking
With a gender gap of 5.5 years of life in 2014, newly born women in the EU-28 should generally expect to outlive men. Furthermore, this gap varied substantially between EU Member States. In 2014, the largest difference between the sexes was found in Lithuania (10.9 years) and the smallest in the Netherlands (3.5 years) — see Figure 3.
The gap between the sexes was smaller when looking at the life expectancy at age 65. Women aged 65 in 2014 in the EU-28 had a life expectancy of 21.6 years, while for men it was 18.2 years, thus a difference of 3.4 years.
Around 18.8 thousand children died before reaching one year of age in the EU-28 in 2014; this was equivalent to an infant mortality rate of 3.7 deaths per 1 000 live births.
One of the most significant changes that led to increases in life expectancy at birth were reductions in infant mortality rates. During the 10 years from 2004 to 2014 the infant mortality rate in the EU-28 fell by more than a quarter; extending the analysis to the last 20 years shows that the infant mortality rate was halved. The most significant reductions in infant mortality were generally recorded within those EU Member States which tended to record higher levels of infant mortality in 2004, compared with the EU average.
Despite this progression, some EU Member States still had relatively high infant mortality rates in 2014, for example, Romania (8.4 deaths per 1 000 live births) and Bulgaria (7.6). In 2014, the lowest infant mortality rates in the EU-28 were in Cyprus (1.4 deaths per 1 000 live births), Slovenia (1.8) and Sweden (2.2).
Data sources and availability
Eurostat provides information on a wide range of demographic data, including statistics on the number of deaths by age, by year of birth, as well as according to sex and educational attainment; statistics are also collected for infant mortality and late foetal deaths. A series of mortality indicators are produced, which may be used to derive a range of information on subjects such as crude death rates or life expectancy measures by age, sex or educational attainment.
The gradual increase in life expectancy in the EU is one of the contributing factors to the ageing of the EU-28’s population — alongside relatively low levels of fertility that have persisted for decades (see the articles on population structure and ageing and fertility statistics).
- Causes of death statistics
- Fertility statistics
- Healthy life years statistics
- Population and population change statistics
- Population structure and ageing
Further Eurostat information
- Short analytical webnote - Demography Report - 2015 edition
- Highly educated men and women likely to live longer — Statistics in focus 24/2010
- The greying of the baby boomers — Statistics in focus 23/2011
- Mortality (t_demo_mor), see:
- Life expectancy at birth, by sex (tps00025)
- Life expectancy at age 65, by sex (tps00026)
- Deaths by NUTS 2 region (tgs00098)
- Life expectancy at birth by sex and NUTS 2 region (tgs00101)
- Infant mortality rate (tps00027)
Methodology / Metadata
- Mortality (ESMS metadata file - demo_mor_esms)
Source data for tables and figures (MS Excel)