Women living longer than men – but only by three years

Gap in life expectancy between sexes has started to narrow, new statistics show

Many people will have an anecdote or two to illustrate why women live longer than men, but the gap in life expectancy has been closing over the last two decades according to new statistics from the Department of Health.

Irish women on average lived 5.3 years longer than men in 1997, however this gap in life expectancy had closed to 3.6 years by 2017, the figures show.

The Health in Ireland Key Trends 2019 statistics show overall people are living longer, with life expectancy increasing by nearly two and a half years since 2007.

This increase was due to a drop in mortality rates and improvements in healthcare giving people better chances of surviving conditions such as heart disease, stroke and cancer.


Life expectancy at birth was 80.4 years for men and 84 years for women, the smallest gap between the sexes since the 1950s.

As well as living longer than men, women aged 65 were more likely to be healthier than their male counterparts, according to the statistics.

Irish men have had a higher life expectancy than the European Union average by more than a year for the last decade, the figures show.

The statistics revealed despite a recent dip Ireland still has the third-highest fertility rate in the EU behind France and Sweden. The counties with the lowest fertility rates were Dublin, Cork and Kilkenny.

Four out of five Irish people rated their own health as being good or very good, the highest in the EU. People with higher incomes were more likely to report better health compared to those from low-income households, according to the figures.

Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is acting Europe Correspondent of The Irish Times