Danish life expectancy stands still, halting years-long trend

An influenza epidemic in 2018 may be one of the reasons that the average life expectancy in Denmark did not increase last year.

Danish life expectancy stands still, halting years-long trend
File photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

Average life expectancy in Denmark has increased consistently in recent years, but in 2018 stood still for the first time since the 1990s.

That means an average life expectancy of 79 years for men and 82.9 years for women in the Scandinavian country, according to figures from Statistics Denmark.

One of the factors which may have influenced the trend was an epidemic of a vaccine-resistant strain of influenza, which hit the country in March last year.

“That may be part of the explanation for a stagnation in development of average life expectancy, since the mortality of weaker elderly people increased,” Statistics Denmark wrote in a report published on its website.

Since the early 1990s, life expectancy has increased by an average of 0.25 each year.

Mortality in Denmark has fallen over a number of years. Should that trend continue, people born today can expect to live significantly longer than the current average life expectancies, according to Statistics Denmark.

READ ALSO: Emigration from Denmark increased in 2018, while population continues to grow


Denmark expects twice as many people over 80 years old in 2050

More than twice as many people in Denmark will be over 80 years old in 2050 compared to the number of senior citizens in the country today.

Denmark expects twice as many people over 80 years old in 2050
By 2050, a much larger proportion of Denmark's population will be over 80 years old. File photo: Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix

A new population projection from national agency Statistics Denmark predicts 431,000 people of the age of 80 in Denmark in 2030.

That will increase to 617,000 by 2050, around 10 percent of the population.

Today, Denmark has around 282,000 over-80s in its population, which is around 5 percent of the population.

A large increase in the number of elderly persons is expected to present Denmark’s social welfare system with economic challenges, with larger numbers likely to need care and practical help.

In its report, Statistics Denmark writes that the “greatest (population) growth going forward is expected to take place amongst the oldest age groups”.

Other age groups are not expected to greatly change their proportion of the population during the period covered by the projection, the agency writes.

The overall population is expected to grow by 0.4 percent by 2028. After that, growth will plateau, giving a growth of 0.12 percent in 2050. It is then forecast to increase again, reaching 0.2 percent in 2060.

Major factors affecting the population size – birth rates, death rates and immigration – are all predicted to vary at different times throughout the period.

But Statistics Denmark writes that it expects a deficit in the number of births between 2044 and 2053.

The 2021 projection does not take into account the potential long-term impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the population. That is because “no sufficient basis of knowledge and experience is yet available,” the statistics bureau writes.

However, the agency noted that the biggest impact of the pandemic on population size in 2020 was its restrictive effect on immigration and emigration.

READ ALSO: Denmark’s immigration and emigration is mostly to and from Western countries