Life expectancy at birth has in general been increasing over the past decade in the EU with official statistics revealing that life expectancy has risen, on average, by more than two years per decade since the 1960s. However, the latest available data suggest that life expectancy stalled or declined in several EU Member States.
Some Member States (mostly in Western Europe) saw their life expectancy move back towards pre-Covid levels, while others (mostly in Eastern Europe and including Latvia) suffered the impact of the pandemic later and fully in 2021.
According to preliminary 2021 data, the COVID-19 pandemic that started in 2020 has had a negative effect with life expectancy at birth declining in almost half the EU Member States in 2021. The largest decreases have been estimated in Slovakia and Bulgaria (-2.2 years compared with 2020), followed by Latvia (-2.1) and Estonia (-2.0).
Compared with the pre-pandemic year of 2019, the overall effect on life expectancies is still negative in all EU Member States except Luxembourg (+0.1), Malta and Sweden (same level in 2019 and 2021). In some cases, life expectancies have further worsened in 2021, leading to an estimated overall loss of more than 2 years. The largest decreases compared with 2019 were registered in Bulgaria (-3.7), Slovakia (-3.0), and Romania (-2.7).
This information comes from provisional estimates on life expectancy published May 5 which show Latvians could expect to live an average of 75.5 years in 2020 but 73.4 years in 2021. As previously reported by LSM, Latvian women live nearly a decade longer than Latvian men on average.