German life expectancy decreased during COVID years

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Average life expectancy in Germany dropped noticeably between 2019 and 2021, according to the national statistics office, a change that it attributes to unusually high numbers of deaths during the coronavirus pandemic.

Life expectancy for newborn girls last year was 83.2 years and for boys 78.2 years, The Federal Statistical Office said on Tuesday. That is a decrease of 0.4 and 0.6 years respectively compared with 2019, the year before the pandemic.

“The main reason for this development is unusually high death figures during the COVID-19 waves,” the office said in a statement.

An increase in the proportion of elderly people in Germany has led to expectations over the past 20 years of increasing numbers of deaths, the office said, but life expectancy had been rising before the pandemic.

Until COVID-19 hit, death figures were rising by an average 1-2% per year, but deaths were 5% higher in 2020 and a further 4% higher last year, statistics showed — meaning that there were 70,000 to 100,000 more deaths over the two years than would statistically have been expected.

The statistics office said that nearly 115,000 deaths of people with coronavirus were reported in the two years, while pandemic-related precautions may have reduced deaths from other diseases. Germany has a population of 83 million.