Mortality and life expectancy statistics

From Statistics Explained

Data from May 2014. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database. Planned article update: May 2015.
Figure 1: Number of deaths, EU-28, 1961–2012 (1)
(million) - Source: Eurostat (demo_gind)
Figure 2: Life expectancy at birth, EU-28, 2002–12 (1)
(years) - Source: Eurostat (demo_mlexpec)
Table 1: Life expectancy at birth, 1980–2012
(years) - Source: Eurostat (demo_mlexpec)
Table 2: Life expectancy at age 65, 1980–12
(years) - Source: Eurostat (demo_mlexpec)
Figure 3: Life expectancy at birth, gender gap, 2012
(years, female life expectancy - male life expectancy) - Source: Eurostat (demo_mlexpec)
Figure 4: Life expectancy at age 65, 2012
(years) - Source: Eurostat (demo_mlexpec)
Figure 5: Infant mortality, 1997 and 2012
(deaths per 1 000 live births) - Source: Eurostat (demo_minfind)

This article provides information relating to mortality in the European Union (EU).

Life expectancy at birth rose rapidly during the last century due to a number of factors, including reductions in infant mortality, rising living standards, improved lifestyles and better education, as well as advances in healthcare and medicine.

Main statistical findings

In 2012, some 5.0 million persons died in the EU-28 — this was broadly in line with the annual number of deaths recorded over the previous four decades. The crude death rate (the number of deaths per 1 000 inhabitants) was 9.9.

Life expectancy is increasing

The most commonly used indicator for analysing mortality is that of life expectancy at birth (the mean number of years that a person can expect to live at birth if subjected throughout the rest of his or her life to current mortality conditions). Life expectancy in the EU-28 is generally higher than in most other regions of the world and continues to increase (see Figure 2). In 2012, life expectancy at birth in the EU-28 was 80.3 years, reaching 83.1 years for women and 77.5 years for men. During the decade between 2002 (the first year for which data are available for all EU Member States) and 2012, life expectancy in the EU-28 increased by 2.6 years, from 77.7 to 80.3 years; the increase was 2.2 years for women and 3.0 years for men.

While life expectancy is rising in all EU Member States, there are still major differences between and within countries. In some cases, improvements in education and standards of living have contributed to longer life expectancy, suggesting that the pattern of increasing longevity could be further extended in the future.

Looking at the extremes of the ranges for life expectancy at birth, a woman born in 2012 is expected to live between 77.9 years (Bulgaria) and 85.5 years (Spain), a range of 7.6 years. A man born in 2012 can be expected to live between 68.4 years (Lithuania) and 79.9 years (Sweden), a range of 11.5 years.

Over the past 50 years, life expectancy at birth has increased by about 10 years for both men and women in the EU-28. It is likely that further gains will be achieved mostly from the reduction of mortality at older ages.

In 2012, once a man had reached the age of 65, he could, on average, expect to live between another 13.6 years (as in Latvia) and 19.1 years (as in France). The life expectancy of women at age 65 was higher. In 2012 it ranged from 17.3 years in Bulgaria to 23.4 years in France — see Figure 4 and Table 2).

The gender gap is shrinking

With a gender gap of 5.6 years of life in 2012, newly born women in the EU-28 should generally expect to outlive men. However, the gap between male and female life expectancies at birth is shrinking: in 2012 it was 0.8 years less than it had been 10 years before (the difference was 6.4 years in 2002). The gap also varied substantially between EU Member States. In 2012, the largest difference between the sexes was found in Lithuania (11.2 years) and the smallest in the Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom (all 3.7 years) — see Figure 3.

It may also be noted that the gap between the sexes is smaller when looking at the life expectancy at age 65. Women aged 65 in 2012 in the EU-28 had a life expectancy of 21.1 years, while for men it was 17.7 years, thus a difference of 3.4 years.

Infant mortality

In 2012, around 20 000 children died before reaching one year of age in the EU-28. This is equivalent to an infant mortality rate of 3.8 deaths per 1 000 live births.

One of the most significant changes that led to increases in life expectancy at birth were reductions in infant mortality rates. During the 15 years from 1997 to 2012 the infant mortality rate in the EU-28 was almost halved. The most significant reductions in infant mortality were generally recorded within those EU Member States which tended to record higher levels of infant mortality in 1997, compared with the EU average.

The lowest infant mortality rate within the EU-28 in 2012 was observed in Slovenia (1.6 deaths per 1 000 live births), while rates of 2.6 deaths per 1 000 live births or less were also recorded for Finland, Luxembourg, Sweden and the Czech Republic. By contrast, infant mortality rates were highest in Romania (9.0 deaths per 1 000 live births) and Bulgaria (7.8 deaths per 1 000 live births), although both of these Member States reported sharp decreases in infant mortality rates, down from 22.0 and 17.5 deaths per 1 000 live births in 1997.

Data sources and availability

Eurostat provides information on a wide range of demographic data, including statistics on the number of deaths by age, by year of birth, as well as according to sex and educational attainment; statistics are also collected for infant mortality and late foetal deaths. A series of mortality indicators are produced, which may be used to derive a range of information on subjects such as crude death rates or life expectancy measures by age, sex or educational attainment.


The gradual increase in life expectancy in the EU is one of the contributing factors to the ageing of the EU-28’s population — alongside relatively low levels of fertility that have persisted for decades (see the articles on population structure and ageing and fertility statistics).

See also

Further Eurostat information


Main tables

Demography (t_pop)
Demography - National data (t_demo)
Mortality (t_demo_mor)
Life expectancy at birth, by sex (tps00025)
Life expectancy at 60 (tps00026)
Life expectancy at age 65, by sex (tsdde210)
Infant mortality (tps00027)


Demography (pop)
Demography - National data (demo)
Mortality (demo_mor)
Deaths by age at last birthday and sex (demo_magec)
Deaths by age reached during the year and sex (demo_mager)
Deaths by age at last birthday, sex and educational attainment (ISCED 1997) (demo_maeduc)
Deaths by age at last birthday, sex and legal marital status (demo_marstac)
Deaths by age at last birthday, sex and citizenship (demo_maczc)
Deaths by age at last birthday, sex and country of birth (demo_macbc)
Deaths by month (demo_mmonth)
Life expectancy by age and sex (demo_mlexpec)
Life expectancy by age, sex and educational attainment (ISCED 1997) (demo_mlexpecedu)
Life table (demo_mlifetable)
Infant mortality (demo_minf)
Infant mortality by age and sex (demo_minfs)
Infant mortality rates (demo_minfind)
Late foetal deaths by mother's age (demo_mfoet)
Demography - Regional data (demoreg)
Mortality (demo_r_mor)

Dedicated section

Methodology / Metadata

  • Mortality (ESMS metadata file - demo_mor_esms)

Source data for tables and figures (MS Excel)

External links