Mortality and life expectancy statistics


Data extracted in July 2020

Planned article update: July 2021

Highlights
Life expectancy at birth in the EU estimated at 81 years in 2018.
Infant mortality rate in the EU down by almost 20 % over the last 10 years.

Life expectancy at birth, EU-27, 2002-2018

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.


Full article

Number of deaths at 4.7 million in 2018

In 2018, 4 693 000 persons died in the EU-27, compared with 4 660 000 in 2017. The annual number of deaths is the highest observed over the previous five decades (see Figure 1). The crude death rate, which is the number of deaths per 1 000 persons, was estimated at 10.5 in the EU-27 in 2018, equal to that in 2017.

Figure 1: Number of deaths, EU-27, 1962-2018
(million)
Source: Eurostat (demo_gind)

Life expectancy increased in EU-27 in 2018

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 their life. It is a simple but powerful way of illustrating the developments in mortality.

Life expectancy at birth in the EU-27 was estimated at 81.0 years in 2018 (0.1 years higher than 2017), reaching 83.7 years for women (0.1 higher than 2017) and 78.2 years for men (0.1 higher than 2017) (see Table 1 and Figure 2).

Overall, between 2002 (the first year for which life expectancy data became available for all EU Member States) and 2018, life expectancy in the EU-27 increased by 3.3 years, from 77.7 to 81.0 years; the increase was by 2.8 years for women and 3.9 years for men.

Figure 2: Life expectancy at birth, EU-27, 2002-2018
(years)
Source: Eurostat (demo_mlexpec)

Table 1 shows that in 2018 life expectancy increased in 21 EU Member States compared with 2017, and decreased by 0.1 years in 4 Member States (Denmark, Germany, Poland and Portugal), while it was stable in 2 countries. The highest increase compared with 2017 was registered in Cyprus, where life expectancy rose by 0.7 years, followed by Greece (+ 0.5 years) and by Slovenia and Italy (+ 0.3 years in life expectancy).

In the years between 2010 and 2018, the rise in life expectancy at birth for men in the EU Member States ranged from a minimum of 0.6 years (in Germany) to a maximum of 3.3 years (in Lithuania). For women, the increase ranged from 0.3 years (in Germany) to 1.9 years (in Estonia).

Table 1: Life expectancy at birth, 1980-2018
(years)
Source: Eurostat (demo_mlexpec)

There are still major differences between countries when looking at men and women life expectancies (see Table 1). In 2018, the differences between the highest and lowest life expectancies among EU Member States amounted to 11.1 years for men and 7.7 years for women. For men, the lowest life expectancy was recorded in Latvia (70.1 years) and the highest in Italy (81.2 years). For women, the range was from a low of 78.6 years in Bulgaria to a high of 86.3 years in Spain.

In 2018, the life expectancy for women is still higher than the life expectancy for men. With a gender gap of 5.5 years of life in 2018, newly born females in the EU-27 should generally expect to outlive men. Furthermore, this gap varied substantially between EU Member States. In 2018, the largest difference between the sexes was found in Lithuania (9.8 years) and the smallest in the Netherlands (3.1 years) — see Figure 3.

Figure 3: Life expectancy at birth, gender gap, 2018 (years, female life expectancy - male life expectancy)
Source: Eurostat (demo_mlexpec)

Table 1 shows that in 2018 life expectancy increased in all the EFTA countries, compared with 2017, except for Liechtenstein. In the years between 2010 and 2018, the rise in life expectancy at birth for men in the EFTA countries, ranged from a minimum of 1.2 years (in Liechtenstein) to a maximum of 2.1 years (in Norway). For women, the increase ranged from 0.4 years in Iceland to 1.2 years in both Liechtenstein and Norway.

Life expectancy increased in all the candidate countries in 2018 as compared with 2017, with the highest increase in North Macedonia (0.7 years higher) and the lowest in both Serbia and Montenegro (0.3 years higher). Among the candidate countries, between 2010 and 2018, the highest gain in life expectancy was observed in Turkey, by of 2.0 years for men and by 2.2 years for women, and the lowest gain in Montenegro, by 0.9 years for men and 0.8 years for women.

In 2018, EFTA and candidate countries recorded smaller differences between the highest and lowest life expectancies than in the EU-27. For EFTA countries these difference was 1.2 years for both men (ranging from a low of 80.7 in Liechtenstein and a high of 81.9 in Switzerland) and for women (from 84.5 in both Norway and Iceland to 85.7 in Switzerland). Within the candidate countries the difference between the highest and lowest life expectancies amounted to 3.9 years for men (from 73.5 in Serbia to 77.4 in Albania) and to 3.2 years for women (from 78.4 in Serbia to 81.6 in Turkey).

The EFTA countries recorded differences below the EU average between life expectancy at birth for men and women, ranging from 4.8 years in Lichtenstein to 3.2 in Iceland. The same behaviour can be observed in the candidate countries, where the differences between life expectancy at births for men and women ranged between 5.4 years in Turkey and 3.1 in Albania.

Slight increase in life expectancy at age 65 in 2018

Looking at the older generations in the EU-27, Table 2 shows that life expectancy at 65 showed a small increase in 2018. It was estimated at 20.0 years (0.1 years higher than 2017), reaching 21.6 years for women (0.1 years higher than 2017) and 18.1 years for men (stable compared with 2017).

Table 2: Life expectancy at age 65, 1980-2018
(years)
Source: Eurostat (demo_mlexpec)

Table 2 reveals a pattern similar to the one shown in Table 1. Compared with 2017, life expectancy at age 65 increased in 16 Member States in 2018, it showed a slight decrease in 5 Member States (0.2 years lower in Denmark and 0.1 years lower in Germany, Estonia, Poland and Portugal), and it was stable in 6 other countries. The highest increase in life expectancy at age 65 was noticed in Cyprus (+ 0.6 years, from 19.9 years in 2017 to 20.5 years in 2018), Greece (+ 0.5 years, from 20.1 to 20.6) and Italy (+ 0.4 years, from 20.9 to 21.3).

In 2018, it can be observed that once a man had reached the age of 65, he could, on average, expect to live between another 14.1 years, as in Latvia, and 19.7 years, as in France. The life expectancy of women at age 65 was higher then that of men; in 2018 it ranged from 18.0 years in Bulgaria to 23.8 years in France — see Table 2.

Figure 4: Life expectancy at age 65, gender gap, 2017
(years, female life expectancy - male life expectancy)
Source: Eurostat (demo_mlexpec)

When looking at life expectancy at age 65 it can be observed that the gap between the sexes is smaller than the gap at birth. In 2018 women aged 65 in the EU-27 should generally expect to outlive men by 3.5 years. The largest difference between the sexes was found in Lithuania (5.2 years) and the smallest in both Sweden and the Netherlands (2.4 years) — see Figure 4 .

In 2018, in the EFTA countries, the life expectancy of men at age 65 ranged from 19.0 years in Liechtenstein to 20.2 years in Switzerland, while the life expectancy for women varied from a minimum of 21.7 years in both Iceland and Norway to a maximum of 23.0 years in Switzerland. — see Table 2.

In the candidate countries, the life expectancy of men at age 65 ranged from 14.7 years in Serbia to 17.2 years in Albania, while the life expectancy for women varied from a minimum of 17.1 years in North Macedonia to a maximum of 19.9 years in Turkey. — see Table 2.

Figure 4 shows that in 2018 women aged 65 in the EFTA countries expected to outlive men from a minimum of 1.7 years in Iceland to a maximum of 2.9 years in Liechtenstein. Within the candidate countries the highest gap in life expectancy at age 65 between sexes was registered in Turkey (3.3 years) and the lowest was in Albania (1.3 years).

Infant mortality

Around 14 600 children died before reaching one year of age in the EU-27 in 2018; this was equivalent to an infant mortality rate of 3.4 deaths per 1 000 live births.

Figure 5: Infant mortality, 2008 and 2018
(deaths per 1 000 live births)
Source: Eurostat (demo_minfind)

One of the most significant changes that has led to increases in life expectancy at birth has been the decrease in infant mortality rates. During the 10 years from 2008 to 2018, the infant mortality rate in the EU-27 fell from 4.2 deaths per 1 000 live births to 3.4 deaths per 1 000 live births; extending the analysis to the last 20 years, the infant mortality rate was almost halved (6.6 deaths per 1 000 in 1998). 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 earlier years, compared with the EU average.

In 2018, the highest infant mortality rates in the EU-27 were registered in Romania (6.0 deaths per 1 000 live births) and Bulgaria (5.8 deaths per 1 000 live births), and the lowest were recorded in Estonia (1.6 deaths per 1 000 live births) and Slovenia (1.7 deaths per 1 000 live births).

In 2018, in the EFTA countries the infant mortality rates ranged from a minimum of 0 deaths per 1 000 live births in Lichtenstein (this very low value is influenced by the small population number of the country) to a maximum of 3.3 deaths per 1 000 live births in Switzerland.

In 2018, candidate countries registered infant mortality rates ranging from a minimum of 1.7 deaths per 1 000 live births in Montenegro to a maximum of 9.3 deaths per 1 000 live births in Turkey.

Data sources

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-27’s population — alongside relatively low levels of fertility that have persisted for decades (see the articles on population structure and ageing and fertility statistics).


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)


  • Mortality (ESMS metadata file - demo_mor_esms)


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