Irish people are living longer and the birth rate is falling

A new report looks into several areas of both the health of the nation and health services in general.

(Published on – Photo: Shutterstock / Arman Zhenikeyev)

IRISH PEOPLE ARE living longer and the birth rate is falling every year. 

That’s according to the 11th edition of Health in Ireland: Key Trends, published today by the Department of Health.

The report looks into several areas of both the health of the nation and health services in general.

It found that the average life expectancy has increased by close to 2.5 years since 2006. As things stand, life expectancy is 83.6 years for women and 79.9 years for men. Life expectancy for men is above the EU average, while for women it matches the average. 

Meanwhile, Ireland’s birth rate has been falling every year since 2009, with 62,053 people born in 2017. Despite this, Ireland has one of the highest fertility rates in the EU.

At this rate, the country is on course to to have double the number of people over the age of 65 by 2038. The greatest proportional increase will be in the 85+ age range. 

“The number of people aged 65 and over will grow from one-fifth to over one-third of the working population over the next two decades which will have implications on how we fund our health services,” Health Minister Simon Harris said. 


Areas explored in the report include demographics, population health, hospital and primary care, health service efficiency, employment and expenditure.

In general, Ireland’s health outcomes have been improving in a number of areas over the last decade. 

The report puts increased life expectancy down to reductions in major causes of death, such as circulatory system diseases and cancer.  The overall mortality rate in Ireland has dropped by nearly 15% since 2008.

There have improved survival rates from common types of cancer as well as respiratory diseases. Despite this, 5-year survival rates for breast, cervical and colon cancer are below the average for Ireland’s peer countries.

The rate of death from respiratory diseases is nearly 40% higher than the EU in Ireland.

Irish people also rate themselves as having good health more than the citizens of any other country. In 2016, 83% of Irish men and women rated their health as good or very good – significantly higher than the EU average. 

Other key health trends and indicators include:

  • The average length of a hospital stay is 5.6 days 
  • 11am to 2pm on a Monday morning is the busiest time for emergency departments 
  • Less than 2% of the population donate blood
  • Men are more likely to binge drink than women 
  • Deaths by suicide have reduced by 26% between 2008 and 2012
  • The number of people on outpatient waiting lists increased by in the last year 

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