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Top Charts 22-07: Women’s Sports and Life Expectancy


Do nations with good women’s football teams have longer life expectancies?


Looking at the qualifiers and non-qualifiers for the 2022 UEFA European Women's Football Championship, it certainly appears that way.

The chart below shows the period life expectancy at birth for women for each nation involved in the tournament. On the right, we see the nations that qualified for the tournament, on the left, we see the nations that failed to qualify. There is a difference of around 4 years between the average of life expectancy of the two groups.

Source: Teams involved in the tournament sourced from those qualified for the finals are Austria, Belgium, Denmark, England, Finland, France, Germany Iceland, Italy, Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, and Sweden. Life expectancy at birth for each nation in 2019 sourced from World Bank data (downloaded on 21 July 2022, last updated on 30 June 2022). HMD data not available for all nations involved.

Why might having a good women’s football team be associated with longer average life expectancy?
The key questions are:
  • A recent study by Nuffield Health (also a sponsor of the England team) reported that 47% of women in the UK had done no vigorous exercise over the last year. Could the increased interest in the tournament act as a catalyst for increased activity levels among women and therefore further gains in life expectancy?
  • Will life expectancy act as a predictor for the winner of the tournament?

At the time of writing, the final between England and Germany takes place this Sunday. Unfortunately for England fans, life expectancy predicts a victory for Germany…

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​Erik Pickett PhD FIA CERA

Erik leads the dissemination of Club Vita’s insights and analytics. He began his career as a mathematician, working at a number of universities around Europe, while moonlighting as a part time street performer. He transitioned to the world of actuarial science in 2011, retaining his passion for engaging communication, training first as a pensions actuary with Mercer and Hymans Robertson and later specializing in longevity analytics with Club Vita.​