Labour Markets

The Length of Working Life in Europe

This tracker examines Eurostat data on average working life duration in European countries.

Eurostat data reveals that in 2022, a 15-year-old in the European Union (EU) can expect to stay in working life for 36 years on average. Compared to 2000, an average 15-year-old today is expected to spend nearly four more years in the labour market.

The expected length of working life has risen for both men and women. In 2022, women are expected to spend 34.2 years in the labour force on average, while men are expected to work for 38.6 years. The gender gap in working life duration has narrowed from 7 years in 2001 to 4.4 years in 2022.

The map below illustrates the expected length of working life by country. The dataset from Eurostat covers European Union Member States, along with EFTA Member States Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland. The 2022 data shows that Northern European countries typically have the highest number of expected working years.

Iceland has the longest expected working life duration at 45.4 years, followed by the Netherlands at 43.2 years and Sweden at 42.6 years. Romania, Italy, and Bulgaria have the shortest expected working lives.

About the data

The data on this page is from Eurostat’s statistics on duration of working life. Data is published yearly, with the latest release in May 2023.

The indicator is based on an analysis of all adults in a country and is derived from an assessment of life expectancy and labour force participation rates. According to Eurostat, most of the variation in the expected length of working life between countries can be attributed to differences in labour force participation rates. High participation rates tend to lead to a higher number of years that an average person in a given country is expected to be in the labour force.


  • First release 21 November 2022
  • Updated with Eurostat data for 2022 in May 2023.

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