Europe, the Oldest-Old Continent

  • Roland RauEmail author
  • Magdalena M. Muszyńska
  • James W. Vaupel


Focusing particularly on the European countries in which Jan Hoem has lived his life, we provide an overview of aging and mortality developments in Europe over the last decades. According to the United Nations, Europe is already the oldest continent in the World and will retain its rank for the foreseeable future. It has mainly been reduced mortality rather than low fertility or selective migration that has contributed to this development. If current death rates persist, more than 91 % of Swedish newborn girls can expect to reach age 65. Of those, 75 % will be able to celebrate their 80th birthday. Improved survival chances among the elderly have been essential for the continued increase in life expectancy during recent decades. The number of healthy life-years has continued to grow as well, coinciding with reduced inequalities in age at death. Whereas, these developments are welcome from an individual’s perspective, they put pressure on social security systems in Europe. We conclude by suggesting that the redistribution of work commitments throughout the life course might alleviate some of these challenges for the welfare states.


Life Expectancy High Life Expectancy Average Annual Increase Healthy Life Expectancy Danish Woman 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We would like to thank Zhang Zhen for allowing us to use his R-code (R Development Core Team 2009) to estimate \( {\text{e}}^{\dag } , \) and the late Nancy Vaupel for help with language editing. This contribution benefited greatly from the comments, criticism and suggestions of three anonymous reviewers and the editors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht. 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Roland Rau
    • 1
    Email author
  • Magdalena M. Muszyńska
    • 2
  • James W. Vaupel
    • 3
  1. 1.Institute for Sociology and DemographyUniversity of RostockRostockGermany
  2. 2.Institute of Statistics and DemographyWarsaw School of EconomicsWarsawPoland
  3. 3.Laboratory of Survival and Longevity and the Laboratory of Evolutionary BiodemographyMax Planck Institute for Demographic ResearchRostockGermany

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