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Life expectancy plunges across the Europe in 2020 amid Covid pandemic

Life expectancy plunges across Europe with England, Spain, Italy and Belgium seeing their average drop by more than a year in 2020 amid Covid pandemic

  • Biggest drop in life expectancy was in Spain, with a loss of 1.6 years from 2019  
  • Denmark and Finland were the only states to see a rise in the statistic in 2020
  • Life expectancy has increased by over two years every decade since the 1960s

Life expectancy plunged across Europe in the last twelve months, as the continent struggled with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Announcing the data on Wednesday, EU statistical agency Eurostat said ‘following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, life expectancy at birth fell in the vast majority of the EU member states.’  

Data from the organisation showed England, Spain, Italy, and Belgium, have each seen more than a year shaved off their average life expectancy. 

The biggest drop was in Spain, with a loss of 1.6 years compared with 2019.  

Bulgaria followed with a loss of 1.5 years, followed by Lithuania, Poland and Romania, which all saw a drop of 1.4 years. 

In England, life expectancy dropped by 1.1 years compared to 2019. While the Netherlands, France, and Austria all saw a decline of 0.7 years. 

Denmark and Finland were the only nations to see a rise in life expectancy, with an increase of 0.1 years.

Life expectancy plunged across Europe in the last twelve months, as the continent struggled with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic

Life expectancy plunged across Europe in the last twelve months, as the continent struggled with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic

One reason the Covid-19 pandemic has caused such a dramatic drop in life expectancy in Europe because of the way the statistic is calculated

One reason the Covid-19 pandemic has caused such a dramatic drop in life expectancy in Europe because of the way the statistic is calculated

Life expectancy at birth is the average number of years that a newborn child would live if subjected to current mortality conditions. 

The data is calculated based on the number of deaths at a specific age and therefore at what age the person is most likely to die. 

One reason the Covid-19 pandemic has caused such a dramatic drop in life expectancy in Europe is because it is only a period indicator mortality. 

This means the reduced life expectancy statistics for 2020 would only apply for people if the mortality conditions observed during the pandemic remained until all babies born this year had died.

The data is calculated based on the number of deaths at a specific age in a period of time. The pandemic has led to thousands of deaths, many of the premature, in a short period of time, forcing life expectancy down (pictured, Italians wait to get vaccinated)

The data is calculated based on the number of deaths at a specific age in a period of time. The pandemic has led to thousands of deaths, many of the premature, in a short period of time, forcing life expectancy down (pictured, Italians wait to get vaccinated)

Since the 1960s life expectancy has generally improved at a rate of more than two years every decade. 

Better housing, sanitation, hygiene, and nutrition since the 1990s have helped reduce mortality rates and increase life expectancy. 

A 20th century understanding of health care, including the advent of vaccinations, helped life expectancy continue to rise. 

But since 2010 those improvements and subsequent increases in life expectancy, have slowed down dramatically across Europe.  

Since the 1960s life expectancy has generally improved at a rate of more than two years every decade. But increases have slowed dramatically since 2010

Since the 1960s life expectancy has generally improved at a rate of more than two years every decade. But increases have slowed dramatically since 2010


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