In 2018, the life expectancy in Iceland was 81.0 years for men and 84.1 years for women.
Life expectancy at birth measures how long, on average, people can expect to live based on population age-specific mortality rates. These rates have decreased over the last decades so people can expect to live even longer than the calculated life expectancy shows.
During the past 30 years, life expectancy in Iceland has increased by six and four years for men and women respectively (see Figure 1).
Figure 1. The life expectancy at birth in Iceland, 1988-2018
Ten year averages (2008-2017) show that men in Switzerland have the highest life expectancy in Europe, 80.7 years, followed by Iceland (80.6), Liechtenstein (80.1), Sweden (79.9), Italy and Spain (79.8) and Norway (79.4). The shortest life expectancy for men is in Russia (62.6), Moldavia (65.9) and Ukraine (66.0).
According to the same ten year averages, women in Spain and France have the longest life expectancy in Europe, 85.7 and 85.5 years. Women in Switzerland come third (85.0) followed by Italy (84.9), Liechtenstein (84.4), Luxemburg (84.1) and Iceland (84.0). The lowest values are recorded in Moldavia (74.0), Russia (74.6) and Ukraine (76.1).
Life expectancy increased more for 30 year olds with tertiary education than for 30 year olds with primary and compulsory education in 2011-2018
In 2018, the average life expectancy for 30 year old women with compulsory education was 52.6 years while compulsory educated males were expected to live additional 48.8 years. Women with upper secondary education could expect to live more than two years longer than women with compulsory education or 54.9 years from the age of 30. The difference was even more pronounced among males as the life expectancy of a 30 year old with upper secondary education was 51.8 years, or more than three years longer than males with compulsory education. In general, tertiary educated individuals may expect to live longer than those with less education. In 2018, the life expectancy of 30 year old women with tertiary education was 56.1 years or 3.5 years more than corresponding women with compulsory education. The life expectancy of 30 year old males with tertiary education was 53.7 years, or nearly five years more than males with compulsory education.
Figure 2. Life expectancy of 30 year old women by education attainment level 2011-2018.
Figure 3. Life expectancy of 30 year old males by education attainment level 2011-2018.
In 2011-2018, life expectancy for 30 year olds increased the most for those with tertiary education, about 1.4 years. Life expectancy of Thirty year olds grew less among those with upper secondary education or 0.9 years while declining by 0.1 years among those with compulsory education.
Infant mortality in Iceland the lowest in Europe
In 2018, 2,254 Icelandic residents died; 1,139 men and 1,115 women. The mortality rate was 6.4 per 1,000 inhabitants and the infant mortality rate was 1.7 per 1,000 live births.
Figure 4. Infant mortality rates in Iceland, 1987-2018
The infant mortality rate in Iceland was 1.8 per 1,000 live births on average over a ten year period (2008-2017), which is the lowest rate in Europe. The second lowest average (2.2) was recorded in Finland and Slovenia, followed by Sweden and Norway (2.5) and Czech Republic and Cyprus (2.7). The highest infant mortality rates were recorded in Turkey (11.7).
Influenza- and measles epidemics from 1843 to 1918
Patterns regarding older epidemics in Iceland can be observed when looking at mortality by age for longer time periods. Figure 5 shows the mortality rate by age for the years 1841-2017. During that period the mortality rate of children declined dramatically and the overall life expectancy increased. The darker the pixels are in the figure the higher the mortality rate. The decreased child mortality rate during the period is clearly observed by the fact that the colour becomes brighter as moving by the time axis nearer to present time. Various big epidemics can be seen in the dark vertical columns, e.g. the Influenza epidemic of 1843, 1862, 1866 and 1894, a measles epidemic that influenced younger age groups heavily in 1882 and finally the Spanish flu in 1918.
Figure 5. Mortality by age groups 1841-2017. Darker pixels show higher mortality and lighter lower mortality.
The ten year average values for life expectancy and mortality rates are based on Eurostat database. Education is classified according to ISMENNT2011, the Icelandic educational classification. ISMENNT2011 is based on the International Classification of Education 2011 (ISCED2011).