Report: Central Europeans live shorter lives than EU average

By Grzegorz Adamczyk
3 Min Read

The latest Eurostat data for 2020 shows that the average life expectancy of people in Poland is still three years shorter than the European Union average. In 2020, this number was 77.8 years, while the EU average is 80.9 years. In general, the data shows those in Central and Eastern Europe live shorter lives than those in Western and Southern Europe.

The Spanish live the longest in Europe (83.4 years), followed by Italians (83.1), French (82.7), and Norwegians (82.7). Poland is among the lowest in this ranking, falling behind Croatia (78), Estonia (78.4), and Czechia (79.1), but still above countries such as Slovakia (77.3), Hungary (76), Lithuania (75.8), Romania (75.3), Latvia (74.9), and Bulgaria (74.8).

According to health expert Jakub Gierczyński, the way to improve the health and lifespan of Poles is through increasing financing for health care and better access to medical services.

“There is a clear division into post-communist countries and the rest of the EU. In all post-socialist countries, lifespans are shorter than in Western Europe. Only the Czechs are close to the EU average,” he commented.

Gierczyński pointed out that there still remains a large difference in the average lifespan between men and women in Poland. Polish women live almost eight years longer than men, while this difference in the entire EU is only 5.2 years. Women on average live 82 years in Poland, and men 74 years.

For many years, the main reasons for deaths were cancers and cardiovascular diseases. In 2020, due to Covid-19, the number of deaths associated with respiratory system diseases also increased. The pandemic deepened the differences between births and deaths, which increased to 129,000 (there were 485,259 deaths in 2020 and only 359,000 births).

Gierczyński warned that the Polish nation is dying out. He pointed to forecasts which stress that if nothing changes, then there may be as few as 27 million Poles in 2100.

According to the expert, the average lifespan in Poland may extend itself if the health of Poles is improved and there is better efficiency in treating the most common diseases. Owing to prevention, the number of people dying due to lung cancer could be decreased by 23 percent, but that would involve more people quitting smoking. Moreover, alcohol abuse is responsible for 11 percent of premature deaths in Poland.

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