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    Life expectancy in Québec drops in 2020 after sharp increase in number of deaths

    Québec, March 3, 2021 – In 2020, life expectancy at birth in Québec was 80.6 for men and 84.0 for women. That’s a drop of 0.4 years (5 months) and 0.7 years (8 months) respectively, compared to 2019. As life expectancy tends to increase over time, the decline in 2020 is an exception to the rule. Between 2010 and 2019, for example, the average increase was 2.3 months per year for men and 1.5 months for women.

    This fall of life expectancy in 2020 is the result of the numerous deaths linked to the COVID-19 pandemic. The total number of deaths recorded in Québec in 2020 is estimated at 74,550, an increase of 6,740, or 10%, over 2019. While we expect the number of deaths to rise due to an ageing population, an increase on this scale is remarkable. Between 2010 and 2019, the average annual increase was less than 2%. The statistics are taken from the La mortalité et l’espérance de vie au Québec en 2020 bulletin, released today by Institut de la statistique du Québec.

    The number of deaths started to rise significantly in late March when the first deaths associated with COVID-19 were recorded. Numbers spiked in April and May; the increase was less pronounced towards the end of the year.

    Total deaths from all causes and deaths associated with COVID-19, per week, Québec, 2010–2020

    Notes: The total death figures for 2019 and 2020 are preliminary.
    Sources: Institut de la statistique du Québec; Institut national de santé publique du Québec for COVID-19 deaths.

    In contrast with the trend from recent years, death rates for people age 60 and over rose significantly from 2019 to 2020. In all age groups over 80, the increase was in excess of 8%. The biggest jump was 13% among women between the ages of 90 and 94. Once the effect of an ageing population is taken into account, the overall death rate for the entire population went up 7% compared to 2019.

    How to interpret life expectancy

    Life expectancy in 2020 is the average number of years a population can expect to live if mortality conditions for 2020 remained constant in the future. Life expectancy at birth for 2020 is not the average length of time children born in 2020 can expect to live, as that will depend on changes in mortality in the future.


    Institut de la statistique du Québec produces, analyzes and disseminates official, objective and high-quality statistical information on various aspects of Québec society. It is responsible for conducting all statistical surveys of general interest. The relevance of its work makes it a strategic ally for decision makers and all those wishing to learn more about Québec.

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