The Irish expected to work 37 years in their life

By Peter Dlhopolec / November 25, 2019

The number of years Irish people spend at work during their life keeps rising, the EU’s latest data shows.

Irish people, who are now 15 years old, are expected to work 37 years of their life, the EU Statistical Office (Eurostat) has revealed.

It is more than in 2009 when the length of working years in Ireland was forecast at 35.7. In addition, the Irish spend more years at work than Europeans do on average, at 36.2 years.

Nevertheless, the figure of 37 applied to the Irish is not the highest compared to other countries. For example, people in Iceland are expected to work for 46.3 years.

The length of time spent in the labour market has, in fact, increased in all European countries and in the EU as a whole, apart from Croatia and Iceland, in the past year.

Eurostat also said a reverse trend has been observed since 2000 in the gender gap when it working years.

Sweden and the Netherlands ahead of EU countries

The expected duration of working life within the European Union has increased by 3.3 years since 2000.

Although throughout the EU figures in countries differ widely. While in Sweden the average duration stood at 41.9 years in 2018, it was about 10 years less in Italy, with 31.8 years.

Map: Expected duration of working life, 2018

This huge gap is, generally speaking, even more visible if the east and west of the Union are compared.  Western EU countries’ expected number of working years range from 35 to 40 years, except in Belgium, Italy, and Luxembourg. Eastern Europeans are expected to work less than 35 years in their life.

In fact, working life in Italy, Croatia, and Greece, is the shortest in the EU. Conversely, Sweden, the Netherlands, and Denmark top the board of EU countries where people work the highest number of years, the data from Eurostat suggests.

Since 2000, working years have increased most rapidly in Malta, by 7 years, which is followed by Hungary and Estonia. Romania, on the other hand, remains the only country where the duration has dropped, from 36 years in 2000 to 33.5 years in 2018.

Men work longer than women. Not everywhere, though

When we look at the working years of men and women, men in the EU spend more years at work. However, this is not the case in Latvia, where the figure for men and women is expected to be the same. In Lithuania, women are forecast to work more years, Eurostat has also found.

The largest gap between men and women is observed in Malta, at 10.6 years, and Italy, with 9.4 years. Although Turkey is not in the EU, it was included in the survey. It found the gap in Turkey in this regard stands at 20.4 years.

Women work the fewest number of years in Italy, only 27 years, while women in Sweden are expected to work the longest, 41 years.

Despite differences in the length of working life among countries, the EU has said its gender gap stood at 4.9 years last year, which is a decrease of 7.2 years since 2000.

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Peter Dlhopolec

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