Life Expectancy - Meaning & it’s Importance
Life expectancy is a statistical measure of the average time an organism is expected to live, based on the year of its birth, its current age, and other demographic factors like sex. The most commonly used measure is life expectancy at birth (LEB), which can be defined in two ways. Cohort LEB is the mean length of life of a birth cohort (all individuals born in a given year) and can be computed only for cohorts born so long ago that all their members have died. Period LEB is the mean length of life of a hypothetical cohort assumed to be exposed, from birth through death, to the mortality rates observed at a given year.
Life expectancy is the key metric for assessing population health. Broader than the narrow metric of the infant and child mortality, which focus solely at mortality at a young age, life expectancy captures the mortality along the entire life course. It tells us the average age of death in a population.
Life Expectancy in Europe
Life expectancy has increased in EU countries over the past decades, but progress has slowed down in recent years in many countries.
In the EU as a whole, life expectancy at birth reached 75 years in 2000’s. Switzerland, Sweden and Iceland had the highest life expectancy among EU countries, with life expectancy reaching over 83 years in 2018. Life expectancy at birth exceeds 80 years in almost two-thirds of EU countries, but still remains at only around 75 years in Bulgaria, Latvia and Romania.
Women continue to live longer than men in all EU countries – on average almost 6 years longer – although this gap has narrowed by about one year since 2000 as men’s life expectancy increased more rapidly than women’s in most countries. The gender gap in life expectancy is particularly large in Latvia and Lithuania, where women live almost 10 years longer than men, and is also quite large in Estonia (nearly 9 years). These gender differences in life expectancy are partly due to greater exposure to risk factors among men, particularly greater tobacco consumption, excessive alcohol consumption and less healthy diet, resulting in higher death rates from heart diseases, various types of cancer and other diseases. Men are also more likely to die from violent deaths, such as suicide and accidents.
Until recently, life expectancy was rising fairly rapidly and steadily across EU countries, increasing by about 2.5 years per decade on average. While some countries have registered fairly large gains in life expectancy during the last decade (notably Baltic countries like Estonia), gains in life expectancy have slowed down markedly in some Western European countries like Spain, France and Germany even before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Why Switzerland, Sweden and Iceland has the highest life expectancy?
Switzerland, Sweden and Iceland has been rated best in many terms inlcuding physical, mental and emotional state.
Air pollution is considerably lower than the world average, and 95% of the population say they are satisfied with the quality of their water, compared to an average of 84%. Overall, 85% of people from this countries say they have more positive experiences–feelings of rest, pride in accomplishment, enjoyment–in an average day than negative ones like pain, worry, sadness, and boredom. This is 5% higher than the OECD average of 80% satisfaction. 90% of the population says they are satisfied with their current housing situation, which is more than the OECD average of 87%. These countries face an unemployment rate of less than 8%, which is half the OECD average of 16% unemployment.
All these factors contribute to life expectancy and therefor it’s very important to balance work life balance for longetivity.