Life Expectancy in Germany – An Expat POV

You have taken the leap to embark on a new chapter in the land of the Deutsch. As you unpack your dreams in this vibrant nation, a question lingers in the air – What is it about life in Germany that seems to add a few extra beats to the heart? Well, life expectancy is not solely about genetics and healthcare. It mirrors a nation’s ethos, habits, and aspirations. From the advancements in medical research to embracing holistic well-being, Germany is a country that has always prioritised the overall health and life expectancy of its residents.

In 2018, Germany spent €390.6 billion on healthcare, or 11.7% of GDP. After Switzerland and Norway, the nation has Europe’s third-highest per-capita health spending.

Cancer and cardiovascular disorders are the top causes of death in Germany, like in other high-income nations. The population’s morbidity and mortality rates are significantly influenced by health-related lifestyles and behaviours, which account for approximately 1 in 5 deaths. Examples of these behaviours include eating patterns, alcohol intake, and smoking rates. Yet, the average lifespan in the country has increased by about 3 years since 2000, reaching 81 years in 2018. 

With a 0.19% increase from 2022, Germany’s current life expectancy in 2023 is 81.88 years.

2022 saw a 0.19% increase in Germany’s life expectancy to 81.72 years.

Germany had an 81.57-year life expectancy in 2021, up 0.19% from the previous year.

2020 saw a 0.19% increase in Germany’s life expectancy to 81.41 years.

Damn! That’s a steady 0.19%!!!

Male and Female life expectancy rates in Germany

A women’s average life expectancy in Germany as of 2021 was 83.4 years. It was 78.5 years for men. That translates to an average lifespan of 81 years for all citizens. This is pretty close to the average life expectancy for citizens of the European Union, which was 80 years in 2021.

Similar to Germany, the EU likewise has a five-year difference in life expectancy between men and women. Various factors, including genetics, lifestyle decisions, and employment, cause the disparity in life expectancy between men and women worldwide. 

Male and Female life expectancy rates in Germany

German life expectancy has consistently increased since 1950. The average lifespan increased from 66.7 years in 1950 to 75.4 years in 1990 before continuing to rise to its current levels. According to the United Nations, life expectancy will continue to rise over the coming decades, surpassing 90 years in Germany by 2100. 

Throughout some decades of the 20th century, life expectancy in Germany experienced dramatic declines. Naturally, these occurred during World War I, the ensuing influenza pandemic, and World War II.

The country’s life expectancy decreased by roughly 16 years between 1940 and 1945, although it swiftly increased following the war. The COVID-19 epidemic lowered Germany’s life expectancy in the twenty-first century; however, the decline was not as severe as it had been during the war. 

How is the average life expectancy rising?

The rise in life expectancy in Germany and everywhere is due to a variety of factors. The creation of vaccines, which helped eradicate lethal diseases like smallpox and polio in many locations, including Germany, has been one extremely significant influence.

Other medical developments, including the development of antibiotics, have also been significant. Rising life expectancies are a result of improved sanitation, better food, and healthier lives.

Lower mortality in old age has been a major factor in improving life expectancy since the middle of the 20th century. 

How is Germany Ahead in the Game?

Education

Germany has a highly regarded dual-apprenticeship system in its high schools to benefit its citizenry. Both general and career-specific education is provided to students, indirectly raising the standard of employment and income potential.

Eighty-seven per cent of German adults between the ages of 25 and 64 have finished upper-secondary school, which is much higher than the OECD-estimated average of 78 per cent.

Jobs and Earnings

Job and Earnings in Germany

Because job stability and pay frequently determine a family’s standard of living, they have a significant role in determining life expectancy. Between the ages of 15 and 64, 75% of Germans work for a living.

In contrast to the OECD average of 1.8 per cent, only 1.6 per cent of German workers are unemployed. The government takes a position by defending its labour force because it understands how important money is. Germany instituted a legislated minimum wage in 2015. Due to less collective bargaining, low-wage workers now have more financial security.

Environment

In order to reduce emissions, the German government has made a public effort to improve public transport by spending money on greener trains and hybrid buses. Additionally, the government has taken steps to adapt heating appliances like wood-burning stoves. Germany ordered replacing these units by 2024 with particulate filters if emissions do not fall by that time, as of 2010.

Social Connection

Even though it may seem strange to include social connections in a list of ten facts about life expectancy in Germany, a person’s social network has a significant influence on their daily decisions.

The FAMILIENwerkSTADT project helps immigrant families in Germany by facilitating their assimilation. In this programme, daycare centres concentrate on giving kids improved access to education. These programmes help to reduce the isolation of immigrant families. Similar to the OECD average of 89 per cent, 90% of Germans are convinced that they know someone outside of their immediate family who they can call on in difficult times.

Healthcare

By recognising people with impairments, the government is able to offer equal healthcare for all of its inhabitants. Every employee has a right to assistance from their employers, such as a customised workspace, special assistance, and part-time options.

Compared to other OECD nations, Germany has invested approximately 0.3 per cent of its GDP in helping those with disabilities.

Work-Life Balance

Work-life balance in Germany

To achieve work-life balance, Germany introduced the Erfolgsfaktor Familie (Family as a Success Factor) initiative in 2015. This programme promoted flexible scheduling for all workers and more reasonably priced childcare.

Germany implemented a parental reform later in the same year in which parents are compensated for taking extra time off. In contrast to the OECD average of 15%, full-time Germans can currently devote 65 per cent (15.6 hours) of their day to personal care.

Civic Engagement

People live longer when they are more content with their lives. In its “strong youth policy infrastructure,” the German government prioritises the needs of the younger generations. Doing this would make people happy and more a part of their community. Estimates for the most recent German elections showed a voter turnout of 76 per cent, far higher than the OECD average of 68 per cent.

Housing

The ability of a person to live a healthy life depends on their ability to live in a clean and safe environment. According to the OECD criteria, there are about 1.8 people per room in German families.

In 1993, the government started a programme to increase housing, and 1.1 million homes were remodelled. In fact, a private indoor flushing toilet is available in 99.8% of all German households.

Personal Security

Personal security is a factor that affects life expectancy as well. While Middle Eastern criminal families significantly threatened public safety, organised crime constituted a severe risk on German streets. The streets “were regarded as a separate territory” prior to the police crackdown. Outsiders were robbed, bullied, and physically assaulted. Germany has a homicide rate of 0.5, compared to the OECD average of 3.7.

Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in Germany and has a significant economic impact. In fact, 92 per cent of deaths among persons 65 and older in 2018 were brought on by cardiovascular disease. The government granted the German Heart Centre of the State of Bavaria membership in the German Centre for Cardiovascular Research in order to highlight recent research. The premier facility in Germany for therapeutic interventions and treatments is the German Heart Centre of the State of Bavaria. The Centre will have greater money and opportunity to conduct its research by joining the German Centre for Cardiovascular Research.

Health and Health Insurance in Germany

The social security and healthcare systems in Germany are well-known. So how does Germany’s healthcare system operate?

A combined public-private system serves as its foundation.

Germany’s healthcare system is divided into two: Private health insurance (Private Krankenversicherung) and Public health insurance (Gesetzliche Krankenversicherung), or the statutory healthcare system, as the Germans prefer to call it.

Having health insurance of any kind, whether public or private, is mandated by law in Germany and is even necessary to start a job there.

Normally, your employer in Germany will handle signing you up with a German health insurance provider, but if you prefer to pick your own, they will need your medical insurance details in advance.

Health and Health Insurance In Germany

If you desire private insurance, let your HR colleague know before you start your employment because they might register you in the public system.

It is the employer’s responsibility to inform the employee of the costs associated with health insurance and to automatically deduct and transfer the employee’s financial contribution from the employee’s paycheck. The employer and employee each contribute 50% towards the current health insurance contribution rate, which ranges from 14.6% to 15.6%.

The joint existence of private and state healthcare providers is one characteristic of the German healthcare system. A number of factors influence your choice. There are numerous insurance providers to select from in both situations; in either case, employers and employees split the expense (albeit only sometimes evenly).

Some Facts to Know About the German Healthcare System

  • All Germans and legal residents of Germany are entitled to free public healthcare provided when it is “medically necessary” and paid for by social security contributions. Citizens must still have health insurance, either public or private, that at the very least covers hospital and outpatient care as well as pregnancy.
  • Treatments and services like immunisations, medicines, and dental exams are covered under public healthcare. One of the reasons Germany’s healthcare system enjoys a good reputation internationally is because of this type of widespread coverage, which contributes to the country’s low average healthcare expenses.
  • As of 2020, all paid workers in Germany who earn a gross monthly income of less than 5,213 EUR (5,800 USD) and an annual income of less than 62,550 EUR (69,600 USD) are required to obtain gesetzliche krankenversicherung (or GKV), the country’s equivalent of public health insurance. A private company may also sell you additional insurance protection. You can switch from public to private health insurance if you meet the requirements for private insurance, such as if your wage increases. However, you can’t have both; you must first choose to forego the required health insurance.
  • You may still use the public health system as a voluntary user if your income exceeds 62,550 EUR (69,600 USD), but you will be required to pay the highest rates.
  • Your monthly salary is deducted by the proportion you must pay into the state-run healthcare system. Healthcare contribution costs in Germany range from 14.6 to 15.6%, with the employee and employer each paying half. An additional rate that is paid entirely by the employee may be added on top of this, with an average rate of 0.9%. The government-run German health insurer charges a “contribution rate” for this extra benefit.
  • It’s relatively easy to apply for public health insurance in Germany; all you have to do is register with the authorities at your local town hall. You will have access to the state-run healthcare if you are enrolled, have a social security number, and are paying your contributions.

Healthcare plans

The selection between public and private healthcare plans is one of the most crucial ones. There are numerous important variables to consider:

  • Your age,
  • Your family and legal circumstances,
  • Your employment and salary,
  • Your expected length of stay and,
  • Your preferred services and perks.

With private health insurance, you can access some medical care more quickly. There are still additional factors to consider, such as who is covered. Exactly what is covered? What will the price be? These responses highlight important distinctions between public and private health insurance.

The more you Live, the more you Save

Health and Health Insurance In Germany

Have you ever wondered if your financial stability is linked to your life expectancy in any way?

Well! It is.

And the logic is way too simple.

Say a person lives till the age of 70 on average. And he/she/they started working at the age of 25 and retired at 60. That’s 35 years of employment and earning. And saving up for your retirement, i.e., your last 10 years, say.

Now, an average person would migrate to another country for a better life between the ages of 25 and 30, so they can settle down early. So, an expat would have approximately 30 years to save up for their retirement. 

Now, if the country you are migrating to is Germany, where the life expectancy is 80. That would give you an extra 10 years of life to earn and save. You could work till 70, healthily with Germany’s improved health policies, and save up some more for a much better and relaxed life till 80!!!

In short, you could enjoy a way more luxurious retirement!

How’s that sound?!

Conclusion

The canvas of life expectancy will continue to evolve, painted by the brushstrokes of progress and the strokes of time. What lies ahead is an unwritten chapter shaped by our choices today and the innovations we embrace tomorrow.

Germany’s story reminds us that while data may provide insights, the people, policies, and cultural dynamics truly define the path a nation treads. It is a reminder that behind every number is a life lived, a story told, and a legacy left.

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