Danish life expectancy falls for second year in a row

Life expectancy in Denmark fell for the second year in a row in 2022 after increasing for around 40 years prior to 2021, according to analysis by Forsikring & Pension (F&P).

The association noted that if this development continues, it will have an impact on Danish people’s future retirement age.

Life expectancy for women has decreased by 0.5 years since 2020, while life expectancy for men has fallen by 0.1 years during the same period.

F&P noted that the decline was primarily driven by an “abnormally high” mortality rate amongst the most elderly Danes.

“We have gotten used to the fact that we live longer and longer,” commented F&P deputy director, Jan V. Hansen.

“Over the last 25 years, overall life expectancy has increased by 5.5 years - or 2.5 months per year on average.

“But most surprisingly, the latest figures show that the average life expectancy fell in both 2021 and 2022.”

Hansen said that both last winter and this winter more people were dying than expected, especially those aged over 85.

“There is no single explanation, but it is probably a combination of Covid-19 and influenza,” he stated.

“There may also be a higher mortality among people with late sequelae after Covid-19.”

F&P warned that life expectancy could fall again this year, as 2023 has also begun with more deaths than usual.

In Denmark, the state pension age is set to rise to 68 in 2030 and 69 in 2035 due to the historical increases in life expectancy.

In 2025, the Danish government will decide on the state pension age for 2040.

F&P noted that while it is still most likely that the state pension age will increase to 70 in 2040, if life expectancy does not improve it will rise to 69.5 instead.

“It will really be a sad new marriage if life expectancy turns out to fall three years in a row,” Hansen said.

“But we still expect that it will, after all, have a temporary effect on average life if we at the same time continue efforts in society to prevent and increase the health of the population.

“If, contrary to expectations, life expectancy does not correct itself and increases towards 2025, then it may ultimately also have an impact on how much the retirement age can and will increase.”

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