Mortality and life expectancy statistics


Data extracted in June 2017. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database. Planned article update: June 2018.
Figure 1: Number of deaths, EU-28, 1961-2015
(million)
Source: Eurostat (demo_gind)
Figure 2: Life expectancy at birth, EU-28, 2002-15
(years)
Source: Eurostat (demo_mlexpec)
Table 1: Life expectancy at birth, 1980-2015
(years)
Source: Eurostat (demo_mlexpec)
Figure 3: Life expectancy at birth, gender gap, 2015
(years, female life expectancy - male life expectancy)
Source: Eurostat (demo_mlexpec)
Table 2: Life expectancy at age 65, 1980-2015
(years)
Source: Eurostat (demo_mlexpec)
Figure 4: Life expectancy at age 65, gender gap, 2015
(years, female life expectancy - male life expectancy)
Source: Eurostat (demo_mlexpec)
Figure 5: Infant mortality, 2005 and 2015
(deaths per 1 000 live births)
Source: Eurostat (demo_minfind)

This article provides information relating to mortality in the European Union (EU).

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.

Main statistical findings

In 2015, some 5.2 million persons died in the EU-28 . The annual number of deaths is the highest observed over the previous five decades (see Figure 1). Furthermore the crude death rate, which is the number of deaths per 1 000 persons, also reached a peak value of 10.2 in the EU-28 in 2015.

Life expectancy at birth is slightly decreasing

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.

Life expectancy at birth in the EU-28 slightly declined in 2015 (see Figure 2 and Table 1). It was estimated at 80.6 years (0.3 years lower than 2014), reaching 83.3 years for women (0.3 years lower than 2014), and 77.9 years (0.2 years lower than 2014) for men (see Table 1).

This was the first decline in EU-28 life expectancy since the year 2002, when life expectancy data became available for all EU Member States, and it can be observed in the majority of the Member States.

Over the last 15 years, however, life expectancy in the EU-28 increased by 2.9 years, from 77.7 to 80.6 years; the increase was 2.4 years for women and 3.4 years for men.

It is not yet possible to say whether the reduction in life expectancy observed between 2014 and 2015 is only temporary or whether the reduction will continue in the following years.

Table 1 shows that in 2015 life expectancy decreased in 19 Member States, compared to 2014, from a maximum of 1.0 year in Cyprus (from 82.8 to 81.8 years), for both women (from 84.7 to 83.7 years) and men (from 80.9 to 79.9 years) to a minimum of 0.1 years for Sweden (from 82.3 to 82.2 years) and Lithuania (from 74.7 to 74.6 years). In the two latter countries the decrease in life expectancy was only observed for women, from 84.2 to 84.1 years and from 80.1 and 79.7 years, respectively.

The second largest decrease in life expectancy was observed in 2015 in Germany, France and Italy, where life expectancy was estimated to 80.7, 82.4 and 82.7 years ( 0.5 years lower than in 2014), respectively. Furthermore, in these countries, life expectancy for women declined more (by 0.7 years in Italy and by 0.5 years in Germany and France ) than life expectancy for men (by 0.4 years in Germany and Italy and by 0.3 years in France).

Finally only seven Member States (Estonia, Latvia, Finland, Bulgaria, Luxembourg, Denmark and Ireland) showed an increase in the life expectancy at birth, while Portugal and Romania were stable (see Table 1).

In the 15 years between 2000 and 2015, 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 7.6 years (in Estonia). For women, the increase ranged from 1.9 years (in Germany) to 5.8 years (in Estonia).

There are still major differences between countries (see Table 1). In 2015, the differences between the highest and lowest life expectancies among EU Member States amounted to 11.2 years for men and 7.6 for women. For men, the lowest life expectancy was recorded in Lithuania (69.2 years) and the highest in Sweden (80.4 years). For women, the range was from a low of 78.2 years in Bulgaria to a high of 85.8 years in Spain.

In 2015 the life expectancy for women is still higher than the life expectancy for men. With a gender gap of 5.4 years of life in 2015, newly born women in the EU-28 should generally expect to outlive men. Furthermore, this gap varied substantially between EU Member States. In 2015, the largest difference between the sexes was found in Lithuania (10.5 years) and the smallest in the Netherlands (3.3 years) — see Figure 3.

In 2015 candidate and EFTA countries displayed the same trends in life expectancy as the EU countries (see Table 1); all of them had decreasing or stable life expectancy, with the exception of Turkey, Lichtenstein and Norway showing an increasing trend. Compared to 2014, the decrease was from a maximum of 0.4 years in Iceland (from 82.9 to to 82.5 years), with 0.7 years for women and 0.1 years for men to a minimum of 0.1 years for Serbia (from 75.4 to 75.3 years) where only life expectancy for women decreased by 0.1 years, while that for men was stable.

In 2015, EFTA and candidate countries recorded relatively low differences between the highest and lowest life expectancies. For EFTA countries these differences were 0.7 years for men (ranging from a low of 80.5 in Norway and a high of 81.2 in Iceland ) and 1.3 for women (from 83.8 in Iceland and 85.1 in Switzerland). For candidate countries they amounted to 3.4 years for men (from 72.8 in Serbia to 76.2 in Albania) and to 3.6 years for women (from 77.4 in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to 81.0 in Turkey).

The increase in life expectancy among the EFTA countries between 2000 and 2015 was highest in Liechtenstein (5.7 years), while Switzerland, Norway and Iceland all recorded increases between 2.8 and 3.6 years.

Life expectancy at age 65 is also slightly decreasing

Looking at the old generations in the EU-28, in Table 2 it can be further observed that, in 2015, the life expectancy at age 65 showed a small decrease. It was estimated at 19.7 years (0.3 years lower than 2014), reaching 21.2 years (0.4 years lower than 2014) for women and 17.9 years (0.3 years lower than 2014) for men.

Table 2 reveals a pattern similar to the one showed in Table 1. Comparing to 2014, life expectancy at age 65 decreased in 22 Member States, from a maximum of 0.6 years in both Cyprus (from 20.2 to 19.6 years) and Italy (from 21.2 to 20.6 years) to a minimum of 0.1 years in Denmark (from 19.5 to 19.4 yeas) and Sweden (from 20.3 to 20.2 yeas). In these countries the life expectancy for women decreased by 0.6 years in both Cyprus and Italy and by 0.1 years in Denmark and Sweden, while the reduction for men was 0.5 years in Cyprus, 0.3 years in Italy, 0.1 years in Denmark and none for Sweden.

Table  2 reveals that between 2014 and 2015 only Finland and Estonia showed an increasing life expectancy at 65, of 0.1 years from 20.1 to 20.2 years and of 0.2 years from 18.4 to 18.6 years, respectively.

In 2015, it can be observed that once a man had reached the age of 65, he could, on average, expect to live between another 14 years, as in Bulgaria, and 19.4 years, as in France. The life expectancy of women at age 65 was higher. In 2015 it ranged from 17.6 years in Bulgaria to 23.5 years in France — see Figure 4 and Table 2.

When looking at the life expectancy at age 65 it can be observed that the gap between the sexes was smaller than the gap at birth. In 2015 women aged 65 in the EU-28 should generally expect to outlive men for 3.3 years. The largest difference between the sexes was found in Estonia (5.2 years) and the smallest in United Kingdom (2.2 years) — see Figure 4 .

Candidate and EFTA countries displayed the same trends in life expectancy at age 65 as the EU countries (see Table  2); all of them had decreasing or stable life expectancy, with the exception of the increasing trend observed in Lichtenstein.

Comparing to 2014, the decrease in the life expectancy ranged from a maximum of 0.6 years in Albania (from 17.6 to 17.0 years) to a minimum of 0.1 years in Serbia (from 15.8 to 15.7 years), Turkey (from 18.0 to 17.9 years) and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (from 15.4 to 15.3 years). The life expectancy for women decreased by 0.7 years in Albania, by 0.1 years in Serbia and Turkey while it remained constant in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The life expectancy for men decreased by 0.4 years in Albania, by 0.2 years in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, by 0.1 years in Turkey and remained constant in Serbia.

In 2015, in candidate and EFTA countries, the life expectancy of men at age 65 ranged from 14.3 years in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to 19.4 in Switzerland, while the life expectancy for women varied from a minimum of 16.2 years in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to a maximum of 22.4 years in Switzerland.

Infant mortality

Around 18.4 thousand children died before reaching one year of age in the EU-28 in 2015; this was equivalent to an infant mortality rate of 3.7 deaths per 1 000 live births.

One of the most significant changes that have led to increases in life expectancy at birth have been the decreases in infant mortality rates. During the 10 years from 2005 to 2015 the infant mortality rate in the EU-28 fell by more than a quarter, from 5.1 deaths per 1 000 live births to 3.7 deaths per 1 000 live births; extending the analysis to the last 20 years, the infant mortality rate was halved (7.5 deaths per 1 000 in 1995). 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 2005, compared to the EU average. The increase observed in Liechtenstein's mortality is due to its small population.

Despite this progression, some EU Member States still had relatively high infant mortality rates in 2015, for example, Romania (7.6 deaths per 1 000 live births) and Bulgaria (6.6 deaths per 1 000 live births). In 2015, the lowest infant mortality rates in the EU-28 were recorded in Slovenia (1.6 deaths per 1 000 live births) and Finland (1.7 deaths per 1 000 live births). Compared to 2014, a small increase in infant mortality in 12 Member States, ranging form 0.1 in Germany, Czech Republic, Ireland, Italy and Austria to 1.3 in Cyprus can be observed.

Data sources and availability

Eurostat provides information on a wide range of demographic data, including statistics on the number of deaths by sex, by age, by year of birth, as well as according to citizenship, country of birth 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.

Context

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).

See also

Further Eurostat information

Publications

Main tables

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)

Database

Dedicated section

Methodology / Metadata

  • Mortality (ESMS metadata file - demo_mor_esms)

Source data for tables and figures (MS Excel)

External links