An overall decline in middle-age mortality across Western Europe: lowest death risks for Spanish women and Swedish men

Population and Societies

450, November 2008

Middle age (40-70 years) death risks decreased by close to 50% in western Europe (54% for women and 39% for men) during the latter half of the past century. However, mortality patterns evolved differentlybetween countries. Stein Emil Vollset describes these trends and briefly places them in the perspective of changes in lifestyle and improvements in medical care and prevention.
From 1952 to 2001, risk of death between 40 and 70 years was reduced by close to 50% in western Europe. Comparing mortality trends in the 12 countries for which complete cause-of-death data are available for the period, we see that the ranking of Spanish and Finnish women greatly improved with respect to women in other countries. A more moderate improvement was observed for men in the United Kingdom and Switzerland. By contrast, both women and men in Denmark, and women in the Netherlands dropped down the rankings and lost the advantageous position held at the start of the period.

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