German life expectancy continues to sink below western European average

German life expectancy continues to sink below western European average

Figures from the Federal Institute for Population Research (BiB) and the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research have found that life expectancy in Germany is falling yet further below the western European average.

Germans live 1,7 years fewer than western European average

The gap between average life expectancy rates in Germany compared to its western European neighbours has gradually widened in the past two decades, figures from the BiB and Max Planck Institute have revealed.

In 2000, people in Germany aged 65 and over were expected to live 0,7 years fewer than their contemporaries in other western European countries, this gap has now widened to 1,7 years.

In Switzerland, those currently aged 65 and over are expected to live until an average age of 83,5 years, the highest of the 13 western European countries included in the study. In Germany, the average life expectancy for those over 65 is 80,5 years.

"The beginning of the 2000s marked a turning point in the dynamics of mortality development in Germany," study co-author Pavel Grigoriev said in the BiB announcement.

Why is average life expectancy lower in Germany?

Looking at what causes the discrepancy between the life expectancy of Germans and their western European neighbours, researchers named late diagnosis or cardiovascular health issues, alcohol consumption and smoking as the main contributing factors.

While the popularity of non-alcoholic beer is on the rise in Germany, figures from the German Association of the Tobacco Industry and New Products (BVTE) found that, in the first half of 2023, people in Germany were smoking even more than usual

On the international stage, Germany still fares pretty badly when it comes to helping people quit smoking. Upon publishing its ninth annual report on global tobacco consumption, the World Health Organisation (WHO) condemned the federal republic for being slow to implement preventative policies, such as raising taxes and banning the advertisement of tobacco products, over the past 15 years.

Director for Health Promotion at the WHO Rüdiger Krech said that the current smoking policy in Germany is of “great concern”. Across the federal republic buying cigarettes and tobacco is still affordable, and while there is an indoor smoking ban, many bars and nightclubs allow customers to smoke.

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Olivia Logan


Olivia Logan



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