The pandemic significantly shortened the life expectancy in Slovakia
From the beginning of the 1990s until the year 2019, the lives of Slovaks were essentially continuously extended. The unfavourable epidemiological situation in 2020 resulted in a relatively significant decline in life expectancy at birth. It was about 0.9 years for men and 0.7 years for women. The main reason for the deterioration in mortality was primarily the increase in the probability of death in old age. The dramatic increase in the number of deaths in 2021, which can be seen from the preliminary data of the Statistical Office of the Slovak Republic, is most likely to be reflected in a further rapid reduction in life expectancy for both sexes.
While in the pre-pandemic period, an average of 51 to 54 thousand people died in Slovakia every year, in the first year of the pandemic, this number rose to almost 60 thousand. In 2021, more than 72,000 people died, which in relative terms represents approximately 13 deaths per 1,000 inhabitants.
"Slovakia reached such high numbers of deaths at the beginning of the 20th century, and we had roughly the same gross mortality rate just after World War II. In both cases, however, I must add that it was with a significantly younger age structure of the population and a numerically smaller population,” explains Branislav Šprocha from the Institute for Forecasting of the Centre of Social and Psychological Sciences SAS, v. in. i. and the INFOSTAT Demographic Research Centre.
Based on the available preliminary data, the researcher compiled the so-called mortality table - a demographic model that provides a more accurate view of the impact of the pandemic on the mortality process in 2021.
"The table indicates that in 2021 there was not only a shortening of life expectancy, but this phenomenon took place on a much larger scale. According to preliminary data, between 2020 and 2021, life expectancy at birth could fall by another 1.8 years for men and 1.7 years for women. If we compare this with the situation in 2019, over the next two pandemic years, life expectancy in Slovakia decreased in the male part of the population by about 2.7 years and in women by more than 2.4 years,” emphasises the demographer and adds that in terms of the population history of this demographic process, we would return to the level that Slovakia reached around 2009 and 2010 for men and 2007 and 2008 for women.
A deeper analysis of the decline in life expectancy at birth between 2019 and 2021 confirmed the dominance of the impact of worsening mortality rates between the ages of 65 and 74, but also points to an emphasis on contributions at a younger age. These are mainly people aged 50-64. However, the situation worsened quite significantly for the ages of 35-49 (Pic.2). Although the contributions remained positive in the youngest ages, which signals an improvement in mortality rates, they are relatively negligible for the overall development. The situation in the oldest age is also interesting: while the contributions for shortening the life expectancy at birth remained almost the same for men, there was a certain increase only for women. However, it was not as dynamic as in the ages of 50-64 and especially 65-79 years.