European nations have some of the highest average life expectancies in the world. However, most countries in Eastern Europe have lower life expectancies than those in the western part of the continent. It is generally believed that higher income leads to a better access to good health and nutrition. Most Eastern European countries were part of the former Soviet Union, and did not become independent nations until after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. The economies of these nations are still recovering from the past damages, and this could be one of the reasons for the discrepancy in average life expectancy between Western and Eastern European countries.
In all of the nations listed below, the average life expectancies of females are greater than that of males. In some of the Eastern European nations, the gender gaps in life expectancies are some of the highest in the world.
The European nations with the lowest life expectancies are listed below:
Three Countries with the Lowest Life Expectancy in Europe
Moldova, Russia, and Ukraine have the lowest life expectancies in Europe. The life expectancy at birth in these countries is 71 years.
The infant and maternal mortality rates in Moldova are 12.59 and 41 deaths per 1000 live births, respectively. The average life expectancy of males is 66.55 years and 74.54 years for females. Only 4.2% of the country's GDP is dedicated to public expenditures on health. The country has only 264 doctors for every 100,000 people. The country struggles to combat a high incidence rate of MDR tuberculosis, one of the highest in the globe.
Russia has the largest gender gap in terms of life expectancy in the world. The life expectancies of males and females in Russia are 64.3 years and 76.1 years, respectively. Thus, women in Russia live nearly a decade longer than the men. Possible explanations for this shocking difference in life expectancy between the two genders include political, economic, and lifestyle factors. Alcoholism is also considered a significant factors that is killing Russian men earlier than the women. However, there is little conclusive evidence to identify the exact reasons responsible for the gender gap. In 2012, cardiovascular disease was the single biggest cause of death in the country, accounting for 55% of all deaths in Russia.
Ukraine is one of the few countries in the world in which the population is rapidly decreasing. In fact, the death rate in Ukraine (16.3 deaths per 1,000) exceeds the birth rate (11 births per 1,000). Lifestyle choices, like heavy alcohol consumptions or smoking, are considered significant contributing factors to the comparatively low life expectancy in Ukraine. The average life expectancy for males and females in Ukraine are 66.34 and 76.22 years, respectively.
Three Countries with the Second Lowest Life Expectancy in Europe
Belarus, Bulgaria, and Latvia have the second lowest life expectancies in Europe. The life expectancy at birth in these countries is 74 years.
Belarus also suffers a similar fate as Ukraine and has a rapidly depleting population. During the Second World War, the country experienced a massive decrease in population, from 9 million to 7.7 million between 1940 and 1951, respectively. Following a period of steady growth until 1999, the nation’s population started to decrease again. The life expectancy for males and females in Belarus is 66.53 and 787.1 years, respectively.
The average life expectancy of males and females in Bulgaria is 70.62 years and 77.55 years, respectively. The country has one of the highest death rates on the continent. Cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and respiratory illnesses are the three biggest causes of death in the country. However, HIV rates in Bulgaria are one of the lowest in the world.
Latvia also has one of the lowest life expectancy rates in Europe. The country has a relatively high mortality rate of 704 per 100,000, which is the fourth highest in Europe. Smoking-related diseases are common causes of death given the high rates of smoking in Bulgaria. The death rate from injury in Latvia is the second highest in Europe.
With rapidly improving economies and advances in healthcare facilities, the average life expectancy is expected to increase in all parts of Europe. This increase is expected to be more pronounced in countries with low life expectancies than those with already high average life expectancies.