A Spanish baby born today can expect to live for 18 months less than before the Covid pandemic hit, according to Europe’s statistics agency, which has reported falling life expectancy across most of the 27-nation EU bloc.
Eurostat said on Wednesday that, following the outbreak of Covid-19 last year, life expectancy has declined across much of the bloc, with Spain being hardest hit and suffering a life-expectancy loss of 1.6 years compared with 2019.
Bulgaria was the second-hardest hit, with life expectancy there falling by 1.5 years, followed by Poland, Lithuania, and Romania, which all recorded a drop of 1.4 years.
Because Ireland has not yet reported its life expectancy statistics to the Brussels-based agency, Eurostat was unable to provide an overall fall for the 27 EU nations. Germany also failed to provide details on how life expectancy affected both sexes.
Only Finland and Denmark recorded a rise – just 0.1 years – in the key statistic that measures how long a person born today can expect to live on average.
While expectancy has risen by more than two years per decade on average since the 1960s, the Eurostat data suggests it has now “stagnated or even declined.” It said that, because of the Covid-19 pandemic, “life expectancy at birth fell in the vast majority of the EU Member States with available 2020 data.”
Between 2002 and 2018, Eurostat recorded an increase in life expectancy in men from 74.3 to 78.2 years, and from 81 years to 83.7 years for women. Wednesday’s provisional figures would mark the first time Eurostat reported an overall decline in life expectancy.
There have been 26.3 million coronavirus cases reported across the EU to date, with 610,455 Covid-related deaths recorded.