Life expectancy in Ireland continues to increase and we have highest self-perceived positive health status in the EU

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Bernard Gloster
Bernard Gloster

Life expectancy in Ireland continues to increase, standing currently at 84.4 years for women and 80.8 years for men, according to the HSE Annual Report for 2022.

 While life expectancy for women is higher than for men, as in most countries, this gap has narrowed in the past decade, and male life expectancy in 2020 was just 3.6 years below female life expectancy (compared to 5.2 years in 2000).

The greatest gains in life expectancy have been achieved in older age groups, reflecting decreasing mortality rates from major diseases.

Ireland has the highest self-perceived positive health status in the EU, with 82.1% of people rating their health as good or very good. The number of people reporting a chronic illness or health problem is also better than the EU average, at approximately 29% of the population. However, health status reflects income inequality, with fewer low-income earners reporting good health in Ireland and across the EU.

Since 2012, the mortality rate from all causes of death has decreased by almost 16%. There has been a 15% reduction in the mortality rate from cancer, a 38% reduction in the mortality rate from ischaemic heart disease, and a 48% reduction in the mortality rate from stroke. While there has been a reduction of 32% in the mortality rate from respiratory system diseases (excluding cancer of the trachea, bronchus and lung) since 2012, the mortality rate from respiratory system diseases (including cancer of trachea, bronchus and lung) in Ireland is 25% higher than the average of a number of similar European countries such as Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal and Sweden.

Infant mortality, measured as deaths per 1,000 live births, has also decreased by 14% since 2011 and remains below the EU average.

Ireland was below the EU average for suicide rates for both men and women up until 2016 (latest available data for the EU27) and, from 2017-2021, the suicide rate in Ireland continued to decrease year on year in males and remained low in females, with little variation over time. Over the last decade, mortality rates from suicide have reduced by 33%.