Life Expectancy in Croatia Decreasing

By 28 August 2018

This usually happens only during wars and major emergencies.

For the second time in the last three years, the life expectancy in Croatia has fallen. It is a statistical indicator which shows the probable average lifespan of people born in the observed year, reports Jutarnji List on August 28, 2018.

As reported by the Central Bureau of Statistics, the life expectancy for boys born in 2017 in Croatia is 74.9 years, which is 1.2 months shorter than for boys born in 2016. For girls, the life expectancy is 80.9 years, or 4.8 months shorter than for girls born a year earlier.

A similar decline in life expectancy was recorded in Croatia in 2015 when the expected lifespan decreased by 3.6 months for boys and for half a year for girls. Previously, the decline in life expectancy in Croatia was recorded during the war in 1992, when the life expectancy fell by a year – from 72.2 in 1991 to 71.2 years. Since then, the life expectancy grew steadily, until 2015.

Due to the advancements in medicine and the improvement of the quality of life, life expectancy has generally been increasing for decades, and declines are usually related to extraordinary situations, such as wars or disasters, when mortality, especially among younger age groups, is significantly increased.

In recent years, there have been no similar extraordinary situations in Croatia, but life expectancy has decreased anyway. It is a result, according to experts, of a high number of deceased persons, which has not diminished – just the opposite – although the total population, due to low birth rates and high emigration, has been in decline. In 2016, according to official data, there were about 50,000 more people living in Croatia than in 2017, but about 2,000 more people died in 2017 than in 2016.

“A detailed analysis of mortality needs to be done by age groups because life expectancy is mostly affected by mortality among younger age groups,” says Ivan Čipin from the Department of Demography of the Faculty of Economics in Zagreb.

The number of deaths in 2017 stood at 53,477, which is the third highest number of deaths since independence: it was higher only in 1992 and in 2015.

“Life expectancy is an important indicator of today's quality of life and must be seen primarily in that way,” says Čipin, adding that this does not mean that a baby born last year will live to exactly 77.9 years.

Life expectancy is one of the most important indicators of the quality of health care in a particular country, and it has been low for a long time, even without the latest decline. According to data for 2016, the average life expectancy in Croatia was almost three years shorter than the EU average. The longest life expectancy is seen in the Mediterranean countries – Spain, Italy, France and Malta.

Although there are characteristics which make Croatia a Mediterranean country, life expectancy is not one of them; the expected lifespan of people born in Spain in 2016 is 5.3 years longer than for people born in Croatia.

European experts have calculated that a better healthcare system in Italy could prevent 93 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants, 128 in Slovenia, and as many as 216 in Croatia. At the same time, Croatia is the only EU country in which this figure has grown.

In 2015, when Croatia experienced a drop in life expectancy for the first time since the war, the indicator was also lower in many other EU countries. Experts attributed this to a large number of deaths due to flu epidemics and heat waves that year. Data for other countries for the year 2017 have not yet been officially released, so we will have to wait and see whether a similar decline has occurred elsewhere.

Translated from Jutarnji List (reported by Kristina Turčin).