From Iceland — Icelanders Are Amongst The Longest-Lived Europeans

Icelanders Are Amongst The Longest-Lived Europeans

Published May 26, 2021

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Art Bicnick

According to a new report from Statistics Iceland, Icelanders are again amongst the longest-lived of all European peoples.

The report, which gathered data from 2020, showed that the average life expectancy of an Icelandic woman is 84.3 years, while for men it was 81.2 years. In fact, life expectancy in Iceland has been steadily increasing since at least 1988, and likely further back than that.

Over the period of 2011 to 2020, the average lifespan of men has been longest in Switzerland and Iceland, who both share the top spot at 81.2 years. Following close behind are men from Liechtenstein (80.7); Sweden, Italy and Norway (80.5) and Spain (80.2). The shortest life expectancy in men were found in Ukraine (67.4), Belarus (67.8) and Georgia (69.4).

At the same time, the longest-lived women in Europe are in Spain, at 86 years, followed by France at 85.7. After them come Switzerland (85.3), Italy (85.2), Liechtenstein (84.6), Luxembourg (84.5) and Iceland and Finland at 84.3. The shortest lifespans for women are found in Ukraine (77.3) and in Azerbaijan and Macedonia (77.7).

Attention was also paid to the years 2019 and 2020, to see if the coronavirus pandemic has had an effect on life expectancy in European countries. Liechtenstein was hardest hit, with the pandemic shaving 2.4 years off of the average lifespan in that country, followed by Spain (1.6), Bulgaria (1.5) and Lithuania, Poland and Romania losing 1.4 years each.

The countries who have weathered the pandemic best, when it comes to average lifespans, were Norway, who saw their average life expectancy actually increase by 0.3 years, followed by Finland and Denmark, who saw a 0.1 year rise, and Latvia and Cyprus, where average life expectancy remained steady.

As to why Icelanders live so long, experts we spoke with said it is due entirely to socioeconomic factors such as increased quality of life and access to health care—the same factors that contribute to an increased lifespan in any other country.

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