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Mortality and life expectancy in Denmark and in other European countries
What is happening to middle-aged Danes?

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/eurpub/10.2.93 93-100 First published online: 1 June 2000


Background: The trend in life expectancy in Denmark has been less favourable than in other European countries for several years. The aim of this study was to compare mortality in Denmark with that in selected European countries, focusing on age groups and causes of death for which the Danish trends are particularly unfavourable. Methods: Comparisons were made for the period 1952–1993 between Denmark and Norway, the former Federal Republic of Germany, The Netherlands, the UK, France, Italy and former Czechoslovakia of age-specific mortality rates and changes in life expectancy specific for each age group and cause of death. Results: At the end of the period only the former Czechoslovakia had a lower life expectancy than Denmark; the difference in life expectancy between Denmark and the other six countries varied between 5 and 48 months. Almost all of the difference was due to a higher mortality rate in the 35–74 years age group. All heart diseases and ‘symptoms and ill-defined conditions’ were responsible for a large proportion of the Danish high mortality, the decrease in mortality from this group of diseases being moderate in comparison with the other countries. Lung cancer contributed to a loss of 1–6 months more of life expectancy for Danish women than in the other countries. In comparison with Norway, The Netherlands and the UK, Danish men lost 2 more months' life expectancy due to liver cirrhosis and Danish women lost 1 month more. Conclusions: A considerable proportion of the extra deaths in Denmark could be prevented.

  • cause of death
  • Denmark
  • Europe
  • life expectancy
  • life style
  • mortality