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Life expectancy: Gap narrows between Irish men and women (but both are living longer than before)

The increase is attributed to reductions in major causes of death.

Image: Shutterstock/linerpics

IRISH PEOPLE ARE living longer and are healthier than they were at the end of the Celtic Tiger.

New data from the Department of Health reveals that the average life expectancy in Ireland is now 84 years for women and 80.4 years for men.

The figures relate to statistics from 2017 and are part of the latest edition of ‘Health in Ireland: Key Trends’. They compare with an average life expectancy of 82.1 years for women and 77.3 years for men in 2007.

The life expectancy gap between men and women has also narrowed from 4.8 years in 2007 to 3.6 years in 2017, and is now at its lowest since the 1950s.

The increase in life expectancy is attributed to significant reductions in major causes of death, such as circulatory system diseases and cancer.

The overall mortality rate has fallen by 10.5% since 2009, although provisional data for 2018 shows there was a 2.3% increase in the mortality rate from 2017.

This decrease is particularly strong for mortality rates from suicide, which has fallen by 38%, pneumonia, which has fallen by 37%, and stroke, which has fallen by 36%.

However, the report also reveals that men are more inclined to be overweight or obese and women are more likely to be physically inactive.

Nearly 70% of men are likely to be overweight or obese compared to around 57% of women while just over 62% of women are physically inactive compared to about 46% of men.

Minister for Health Simon Harris said the publication of the data gave the government an opportunity to reflect on the health status of the Irish population.

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“These reports help shape the way we plan our health service into the future. A striking feature is the growth in the number of people aged over 65,” he said.

“Each year this cohort increases by almost 20,000 people. This trend is set to continue and will have implications for future planning and health service delivery.”

Harris added that the expected growth in the number of people aged 65 and over would have implications for how Ireland funds its health services.

“This is a good thing – people are living longer, but we need to ensure they live well.”

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