Life expectancy is increasing in Estonia

news release no 94

According to Statistics Estonia, in 2017, life expectancy at birth was 73.7 years for males and 82.3 years for females. In the last ten years, male life expectancy has risen by 6 and female life expectancy by 3.5 years. As a result, the difference in male and female life expectancy has decreased.

The lowest life expectancy since Estonia regained its independence was at the beginning of the 1990s: in 1994, male life expectancy was 60.2 and female life expectancy was 72.8 years. Since then, people’s health has improved, youth mortality related to accidents has decreased and life expectancy has increased.

The difference between male and female life expectancy is decreasing: in 1994, the difference was 12 years, ten years ago, it was over 10 years, and by 2017, it was 8.6 years.

Life expectancy at birth, 1989-2017

Compared to the average life expectancy in the European Union, people in Estonia live on average 3 years less, but this difference has diminished over the years. Compared to the European Union average, the female life expectancy in Estonia is 1.4 years shorter and the male life expectancy is 5 years shorter. According to 2016 data, in the European Union, the longest life expectancy for males was in Italy (81.0 years) and for females in Spain (86.3 years). Estonia ranks 23rd in the European Union in terms of male life expectancy; it is shorter in Lithuania and Latvia. As for female life expectancy, Estonia has a higher 19th ranking, ahead of all the former Eastern Bloc countries. Bulgaria and Romania have the lowest female life expectancy indicators. On average, in the European Union, the difference between male and female life expectancy is 5.4 years. The difference is smallest in the Netherlands (3.2 years) and greatest in Lithuania (10.6), Latvia (9.8) and Estonia (8.6). In Europe, such greater differences can only be found in the other former Soviet Union countries.

Life expectancy depends on many factors, the most important of these being the environment, accessibility of healthcare services, living standard and health consciousness. The somewhat shorter male life expectancy is not surprising as men are more prone to risk-taking. The greater share of physically demanding jobs or those posing more risk to health is a likely factor. In Estonia, more people on average have blue-collar jobs and there are more blue-collar workers among men. This could be one explanation for the greater difference in male and female life expectancy.

Statistics Estonia calculates life expectancy separately for urban and rural population, population of counties, by nationality and, as of 2017, by education, as a new indicator. Life expectancy is greater in urban areas, among people of Estonian nationality and people with higher education. The difference between male and female life expectancy is also decreasing in these groups. Life expectancy of males and females with higher education differs by 7.7 years, while in the case of basic education, the difference is 10.1 years. The difference in the life expectancy between females with higher education and males with basic education is 17 years.

Life expectancy at birth is the average number of years that a new-born is expected to live if mortality indicators specific to the time period do not change.

For the statistical activity “Population”, the main representative of public interest is the Ministry of Social Affairs, commissioned by whom Statistics Estonia collects and analyses the data necessary for conducting the statistical activity.

For further information:

Alis Tammur
Leading Analyst
Social Statistics and Analysis Department
Statistics Estonia
Tel +372 625 8481

More detailed data have been published in the Statistical Database.