Eurostat: Duration of working life on the rise

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In 2019, the expected average duration of working life for the European Union’s (EU) adult population aged 15 years and more was 35.9 years. This was 0.2 years longer than the average for 2018, and 3.6 years longer than in 2000.

Men were expected to work longer than women in 2019 (38.3 years for men compared with 33.4 years for women). Although the expected average duration of working life has been longer for men than women since the start of the data series, the gender gap has been shrinking. Men worked 7.1 years longer than women in 2000, but by 2019 the gender gap had shrunk to 4.9 years.

Expected duration of working life longest in Sweden, shortest in Italy

Among EU Member States, Sweden and the Netherlands had the longest duration of working life (42.0 and 41.0 years in 2019 respectively). These were the only two EU Member States where the expected duration of working years exceeded 40 years. These two Member States were followed by Denmark (40.0 years), Germany (39.1 years) and Estonia (39.0 years).

In contrast, the shortest expected duration of working life was recorded in Italy (32.0 years) followed by Croatia (32.5 years), Greece (33.2 years), Belgium and Poland (both 33.6 years).

Duration of working life.2019

Source dataset: lfsi_dwl_a

Highest increase in duration of working life recorded in Malta, lowest increase in Denmark, only decrease in Romania

Compared with 2000, the expected average duration of working life was higher for all EU Member States in 2019, with the exception of Romania (a decline of 2.2 years). The largest increases between 2000 and 2019 in the duration of working life were recorded in Malta (7.6 years), Hungary (6.9 years) and Estonia (5.6 years), and the smallest increases in Denmark (1.7 years) and Greece (1.8 years).

For more information, see the Statistics Explained article Duration of working life – statistics.

Note: The European Union (EU) includes 27 EU Member States. The United Kingdom left the European Union on 31 January 2020. Further information is published here.