Life expectancy at birth fell in 2021 for the second consecutive year in the European Union (EU), according to data released on Thursday by the EU’s statistical office, Eurostat.
The average baby could expect to live 80.1 years in 2021, down from 81.3 years in 2019.
By 2020, the average had already decreased to 80.4 years. The drop, which applies to both men and women, coincides with the sudden appearance of the novel coronavirus.
Life expectancy at birth for women (82.9 years) remained higher than for men (77.2 years) in 2021.
At the country level, the highest life expectancy figures in 2021 were recorded in Spain (83.3 years), Sweden (83.1), and Luxembourg and Italy (82.7). Belgium (81.9) ranked eighth, together with Finland. The lowest life expectancy estimates in the EU were in Bulgaria (71.4 years), Romania (72.8) and Latvia (73.1).
The statistics collected in the Czech Republic, Croatia, France, Malta and Portugal were not complete, while those in Poland and Romania were based on estimates.
There were also significant disparities between regions. While Madrid (85.4 years), Navarre (84.8) and Finland's Åland Islands (84.6) topped the list of areas with the highest life expectancies, the same cannot be said for four Bulgarian regions: the Northwest (69.7 years), North-central (70.4), Southeast (71.0) and Northeast (71.2)
With a life expectancy at birth of 79 years, Hainaut was the worst-off Belgian province and ranked 79th among the regions of Europe. In contrast, Flemish Brabant (83.6 years) had one of the highest life-expectancy scores in Europe. Only 11 other regions showed better results.