How old does an average Limburger, Flemish, Belgian and European live? Statistical agency Eurostat has collected and bundled all figures for all European regions for 2021. This reveals major differences between north and south as well as east and west. The differences are also large within Belgium.
Until recently, average life expectancy in the European Union increased year after year, but that increase came to an abrupt halt in 2020. The main cause was higher mortality due to successive Covid-19 waves, which mainly affected the elderly. As a result, average life expectancy in the EU fell from 81.3 years at birth in 2019 to 80.4 years for those born in 2020. In 2021, that figure fell slightly further to an average of 80.1 years. For 2022, Eurostat estimates that average life expectancy will rise again to 80.7.
Women in the European Union live an average of 5.7 years older than men: 82.9 years compared to 77.2. In no European region for which Eurostat was able to collect figures do men live longer than women.
The largest gender gap can be found in Latvia, where women are said to be 9.8 years older than men. The smallest statistical difference was in the French overseas region of Mayotte, where women live only 2.3 years longer than men.
The maps of average life expectancy for women and men immediately show how great the differences within Europe can be. On the one hand, the ‘richer’ Scandinavian countries have a higher life expectancy, but southern Western Europe is also doing well, with outliers such as southern France, Spain and (Northern) Italy. The warmer climate and the associated lifestyle may play a role in this.
The region with the highest life expectancy for women in 2021 was the Spanish capital Madrid at 88.2 years old, followed by the Swiss Ticino, which does not belong to the EU. Other Spanish regions also have a high life expectancy for women, such as Navarra, Cantabria and the Basque Country. The French Rhône-Alpes and the Italian Trento are also doing above average.
Men have the highest life expectancy in the autonomous Finnish island region of Åland, where they live an average of 82.8 years. Here too, Madrid (82.2) and Navarra (81.9) are doing well, as are the Swedish regions of Stockholm and Småland.
Eastern Europe and the Balkan countries in particular have lower life expectancy, especially for men. In Bulgaria, for example, men live to an average of barely 68 years, women 75.1 years.
Difference Flanders – Wallonia
In Belgium, life expectancy increased again after the corona dip of 2020 (83 years) to the same figure as that of 2019. On average, a Belgian woman born in 2021 will be 84.3 years old, a man 79.4 years old.
However, there are large statistical differences between Flanders and Wallonia, as the map also shows. The province with the highest life expectancy is Flemish Brabant: women live on average 86.1 years, men 81.2. In Hainaut this is ‘only’ 81.8 for women and 76.1 for men, which is always below the European average.