According to INSEE, life expectancy at birth fell by nearly a year for men and women between 2019 and 2020 in Europe. A trend that continued in 2021, especially in Eastern countries.

As the Covid-19 epidemic hit Europe in early 2020 and continues to rage today, life expectancy on the continent suffers. Life expectancy at birth fell by nearly a year for men and women between 2019 and 2020, according to an INSEE study published on Monday. This trend continued into 2021 with a decline of more than 0.3 years between 2020 and 2021 for both men and women.

In 2020, the number of deaths increased by 11% in the European Union. “As a result, the rise in life expectancy, which has been going on for decades, has come to a halt. Life expectancy fell in 2020 in almost all EU countries“, Specifies INSEE in its study. The drop in life expectancy was particularly strong in 2020 in the countries most affected by the first two waves of the epidemic, namely Belgium, Spain, Italy where the drop in life expectancy is over 1.2 years for both. the sexes. With the coronavirus most affected in the south and east of the continent in 2020, the decreases are also marked in Poland, Romania, as well as in Lithuania, with life expectancy falling by over a year.

A sharp decline in life expectancy for men

For its part, France is in an intermediate position with a decrease of 0.6 years for men, against 1.0 for the European Union and 0.5 years for women, against 0.8 for EU Europe. . The decline was therefore more marked by men, as is also the case in the vast majority of the rest of European countries.

This downward trend in life expectancy in Europe continued into 2021. But this phenomenon hides disparities between different areas of the continent. “Western European countries were hit earlier than Eastern European countries in 2020, life expectancy dropped dramatically in 2020 but rebounded in 2021, thanks in particular to the massive vaccination campaign. Eastern European countries were hit a little less quickly in 2020 but heavily in the second wave and were hit hard in 2021, with less massive vaccination campaigns. Life expectancy then drops dramatically in 2021. This is why the decline continues across the European Union in 2021: the gains observed in the west have not been strong enough to compensate for the steep declines seen in the east.“, Specifies the INSEE in the Figaro. In 2021, the European Union recorded 14% more deaths (all causes combined) than in 2019.

In France, for men, life expectancy increased by 0.2 years between 2020 and 2021 to reach 79.3 years, a figure that still remains below 2019 (79.7). The same is true for women, with a life expectancy reaching 85.4 years in 2021, up from 85.1 years in 2020 and 85.6 years in 2019.

On the other hand, some rare European countries have a higher life expectancy in 2021 than in 2019. This is especially true for men in Luxembourg who have earned 0.5 years or even for women in Sweden who have an increased life expectancy of 0.2 years. “Overall, life expectancy is increasing every year. These countries have caught up or close to the lag caused by the pandemic and are continuing this long-term trend of increasing life expectancy. This means that the risks of death in these countries are no greater after the pandemic than before. It could also be a bias, called the “harvest effect”: the most vulnerable people were wiped out by the epidemic in 2020, while they could have died in 2021 if the pandemic had not occurred. The year 2021 therefore has “fewer” deaths than expected, resulting in a sharp increase in life expectancy.“, Detailed also INSEE a Figaro.


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