In many European countries, the coronavirus epidemic has had a lasting impact on life expectancy after birth, according to the latest Eurostat data. There are also negative figures in Hungary.
This article was originally published on our sister-site, Ungarn Heute. Translated by Júlia Tar.
According to preliminary data for 2021, the COVID-19 pandemic that started in 2020 had a negative impact, with life expectancy after birth declining in almost half of the EU Member States in 2021. The largest declines were estimated in Slovakia and Bulgaria (-2.2 years compared with 2020), followed by Latvia (-2.1) and Estonia (-2.0).
Compared with 2019, the year before the pandemic, the overall effect on life expectancy remains negative in all EU Member States except Luxembourg (+0.1), Malta, and Sweden (same level in 2019 and 2021). In some cases, life expectancy has further deteriorated in 2021, leading to an estimated total loss of more than two years. The largest declines compared with 2019 were seen in Bulgaria (-3.7), Slovakia (-3.0), and Romania (-2.7).
This means that Western Europe in particular has seen some return to pre-COVID levels, while Eastern and Central Europe, where the 2021 epidemic was at its worst, have not yet seen any improvement.
Preliminary estimates show that of the 27 countries in the European Union, Spain has the highest life expectancy at 83.3 years, while the lowest is in Bulgaria, where people die almost 12 years earlier. Sweden, Italy, and Malta are not far behind Spain.
However, at 74.5 years, Hungary is still almost six years behind the EU27 average, while most member states are at least one year ahead of the EU average.
The impact of the epidemic becomes even clearer when comparing the countries in the region with the EU average. As the graph from Eurostat shows, the worse 2020 figure for the EU27 has improved over the past year, while life expectancy has worsened in the Visegrád countries and Romania, and is lower than it was a decade ago in all five countries.
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