New data from Statistics Estonia shows life expectancy at birth in 2019 was 74.4 years for males and 82.8 years for females. Men and women are expected to live 70 percent or more of their life in good health but this below the European Union average.
Life expectancy has increased for both sexes and slightly more for males. However, men are expected to live disability-free for 54.1 years and women for 57.6 years.
Ethel Maasing, leading analyst at Statistics Estonia, said the number of healthy life years increased compared to the year before and there was a positive change in rural areas in particular.
"Compared to 2018, when the indicator of healthy life years dropped to the level seen a decade earlier, Estonian men and women lived healthier in 2019. Males live 72.7 percent of their life in good health and females 70 percent," she said.
Life expectancy has shown a positive trend for the past 20 years. Last year, female life expectancy increased slightly slower, by a third of a year, than male life expectancy which grew to half a year.
Male life expectancy has reached the level of female life expectancy in 1995. The gap between female and male life expectancy is smallest - at eight years - for people with higher education.
Compared to a decade ago, male life expectancy has increased by three and a half years and female life expectancy by slightly more than two years.
"At that time, it was predicted that women would live almost 10 years longer than men, but by now, the gap has narrowed to eight and a half years. However, both men and women enjoy the same number of healthy life years as ten years earlier. There have been increases and falls over the years, but in the longer term, the indicator has been stable," explained Maasing.
Life expectancy depends on many factors, the most important of these being the environment, accessibility of healthcare services, safety at work, living standard and health consciousness.
The shorter male life expectancy is not surprising as men are more prone to risk-taking and have a greater share of physically demanding jobs or those posing more risk to health. Among men, there are also more of those who have unhealthy life styles such as higher alcohol consumption and smoking.
According to 2018 data, the average life expectancy for women in Europe was 83.6 years and for men 78.3 years.
Female life expectancy was highest in Spain (86.3) and lowest in Serbia (78.4). Male life expectancy was highest in Switzerland (81.9) and lowest in Latvia (70.1).
Compared to the European Union average, the indicator for males in Estonia is lower by more than four years. Life expectancy for females in Estonia is about a year below the European Union average.
The indicator of healthy life years for women was highest in Malta (73.4) and lowest in Latvia (53.7), and for men, it was highest in Sweden (73.7) and lowest in Latvia (51).
Considering the European Union average, the indicator of healthy life years for males in Estonia is worse than the indicator for females: for males, it is lower by ten years. The indicator for females is eight years below the European average.
Editor: Helen Wright