December 6, 2023

Taylor Daily Press

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Europeans live an average of 80.1 years, but there are significant differences between genders and regions

Europeans live an average of 80.1 years, but there are significant differences between genders and regions

How old do the average Limburgers, Flemish, Belgians and Europeans live? The statistics agency Eurostat has collected and compiled all the figures for all European regions for 2021. This reveals significant differences between North and South as well as between East and West. The differences are also significant within Belgium.


Until recently, life expectancy in the EU was rising year after year, but this increase suddenly stopped in 2020. The main reason was the high mortality rate due to successive waves of Covid-19, which mainly affected the elderly. As a result, life expectancy in the EU fell from 81.3 years at birth in 2019 to 80.4 years for those born in 2020. In 2021, this number fell slightly to an average of 80.1 years. For 2022, Eurostat estimates that life expectancy will rise again to 80.7.

Women in the European Union live 5.7 years longer on average than men: 82.9 years versus 77.2 years. In no European region for which Eurostat was able to collect figures, men did not live longer than women.

The largest gender gap can be found in Latvia, where women are said to be 9.8 years older than men. The smallest statistical difference was in the French overseas region of Mayotte, where women live only 2.3 years longer than men.

Maps of life expectancy for women and men immediately show how huge the differences are within Europe. On the one hand, the “richer” Scandinavian countries have higher life expectancy, but southern Western Europe is also well placed, with outliers such as southern France, Spain and (northern) Italy. A warmer climate and associated lifestyle may play a role.

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The region with the highest average life expectancy for women in 2021 was the Spanish capital, Madrid, at 88.2 years, followed by Switzerland’s Ticino, which does not belong to the European Union. Other Spanish regions also have a high average age for women, such as Navarra, Cantabria and the Basque Country. The performance of the French Rhône-Alpes and the Italian Trento is also above average.

Men have the highest life expectancy in the Finnish autonomous region of Åland, where they live an average of 82.8 years. Here too, Madrid (82.2) and Navarra (81.9) performed well, as did the Swedish regions of Stockholm and Semland.

Eastern Europe and the Balkan countries in particular are seeing declining life expectancy, especially for men. In Bulgaria, for example, men live barely 68 years on average, and women 75.1 years.

Difference Flanders – Wallonia

In Belgium, life expectancy rose again after the Corona decline in 2020 (83 years) to the same number as in 2019. On average, a Belgian woman born in 2021 will be 84.3 years old, and a man 79.4 years old.

However, there are significant statistical differences between Flanders and Wallonia, as the map also shows. The province with the highest life expectancy is Flemish Brabant: women live on average 86.1 years, men 81.2 years. In Hainaut this rate is 81.8 for women and 76.1 for men, which is always lower than the European average.