- Table of content
- 1) Population Structure and Life Expectancy
- 2) Self-Perceived General Health
- 3) Factors Influencing Health
- 4) Average Age at Death and Death Causes
- 5) Gender Equality Index – Health
Healthy lifestyle and care for own health allows us to increase life quality. In Latvia, life expectancy among males is shorter than among females, which is related to both lifestyle and unsafe conduct (accidents are the third most common death cause among males).
Population Structure and Life Expectancy
Age structure of the population of Latvia shows that females constitute the largest share of the elderly population, nevertheless boys prevail among the newborn. Higher share of men may be observed until the age 38. Latvia has the highest share of females in the total population among all EU countries (54 %).
Gender gap in various ages is related to several factors, including varying mortality rate in different age groups.
Infant mortality is declining, which is one of the factors increasing average life expectancy. Life expectancy reduces due to the accident-caused mortality of young people, especially men, resulting in an age-specific life expectancy gap between genders. For example, in 2018 life expectancy among males aged 30 accounted for 41 years, compared to 50 years among females. Life expectancy at birth among boys is 10 years shorter than among girls (70 years and 79.6 years, respectively).
In 2017, healthy life years (also called disability-free life expectancy, is the number of years that a person is expected to continue to live in a healthy condition) in Latvia accounted for 50.6 years among men and 52.2 years among women. The EU average indicator was higher among both males and females – 63.5 and 64 years, respectively.
Self-Perceived General Health
CSB data show that in 2019, 52.5 % of males and 42.8 % of females in Latvia assessed their health as good or very good.
Low self-perceived general health status of women may be related to the large share of elderly female population – the larger the share of elderly, the lower the assessment. In age group 75+ females assess their health as good or very good for 9.4 percentage points less than males. But younger females (aged 25-34 years) assess their health as good or very good for 1.7 percentage points more than males of the same age.
For at least the past 6 months, 7.3 % of men and 9.6 % of women have been severely limited in activities people usually do because of a health problem. Among elderly population (75 years or older), women slightly more often have reported health-related limitations in activities people usually do (6 percentage points higher indicator than among men). Until the age of 49, in turn, the indicator was similar for both genders.
Factors Influencing Health (smoking, frequency of medical examinations, BMI)
In 2018, 38.3 % of Latvian men and 12.0 % of women aged 15–74 were smoking daily. The largest share of daily smokers was recorded among the population aged 45–54 (half (49.4 %) of the men admitted that smoke every day). The largest share of female daily smokers, in turn, was registered in the age group 35–44.
Visits to Medical Practitioners
Regular visits to medical practitioners and medical examinations allow to find and treat health problems timely. Over the past year, 73.5 % of men and 86.2 % of women had visited family doctor (general practitioner) at least once.
Unmet need for medical examination or treatment was reported by 11.3 % of men and 10.9 % of women, of which 42.7 % of women and 32.9 % of men did not undergo examination or treatment because it was too expensive. Waiting to see if the problem got better on its own was the second most common reason behind unmet medical treatment or examination (32.7 % of men and 18.4 % of women mentioned this reason).
Body Mass Index (BMI)
Over the past ten years, the share of population having normal weight in line with the Body Mass Index (BMI) has reduced. Overweight or obesity (BMI exceeding 25) was observed among 63.3 % of males and 57 % of females aged 16 and over. Overweight or obesity mainly is registered among males aged over 30 and females aged over 40.
Average Age at Death and Death Causes
In 2018, the average age at death accounted for 69.2 years among males and 79.3 years among females.
Diseases of the circulatory system are the most common cause of death in Latvia. Mortality of females due this cause is 1.2 times higher than that of males. Malignant neoplasms is the second most common group of death causes (it is more common among men), followed by external causes of death. However, mortality due to external causes of death has declined over the past ten years. Road traffic accidents more often are fatal for males – mortality per 100 000 men is 4 times higher than that per 100 000 women. Intentional self-harm (suicide) is the most common external cause of death among males – 8 times higher mortality due to this cause than that among females, however the high rate per 100 000 inhabitants has dropped by 31 percentage points over the past ten years (from 42.7 to 29.4).
Gender Equality Index – Health
Latvian Gender Equality Index1 calculated by the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) in the domain Health, which measures gender equality in three health-related aspects: health status, health behaviour and access to health services, is assessed with 78.3 points (EU average 88.1). Main reason behind the low rating lies in smoking and excessive consumption of alcohol among Latvian men, as well as small share of females exercising. Only 43.5 % of men admitted that do not smoke and do not consume alcoholic beverages (the indicator among women accounted for 76.4 %).
1The index rating varies between 1 and 100, where 1 stands for absolute gender inequality and 100 for full gender equality.
Last edited: 24.03.2020