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Duration of active life and worklife expectancy for Romanians: a comparison in the European context

de Marin Pana 20.11.2016

constructiiRomania went up in the past decade from the 23st to the 21st position among the EU countries by the average duration of a resident’s active life, which reached an average of 32.8 years. That is below the legal requirement of 35 years for qualifying for full pension in normal working conditions.

Noteworthy is the relatively high difference between men and women that has increased, contrary to the European trend, to 6.6 years.

According to the developments since 2005, we emerge as one of only four countries, among the 28, where the increase of the ” worklife expectancy” was higher in men than women, along with Poland, Hungary and Estonia. Except that we registered, by far, the smallest increase in Europe of the duration of women’s active life, except Denmark, a country that was already one of the leaders in the EU in terms of activity during lifetime.



  • Evolution of the average duration of active life in EU countries, between 2005 and 2015
  • Year    Total                            Men                             Women
  • 2005 2015 Change     2005 2015 Change     2005 2015 Change
  • Source: Eurostat


The average duration of working life measures the period during which a person aged 15 will be active (either employed or unemployed) throughout life.

The calculation is made based on the demographics and the labour market and refers to the resident population, without regard to the country where the people concerned are working.


  1. Of the former socialist states, only Hungary, the Baltic countries and recently, Poland ranked above the average growth of the active life between 2005 and 2015 at the EU28 level.

Romania came close to the EU average and has noticeably exceeded it in the men’s category, but lagged in the women’s category, which was less than a third of the European average.

  1. Connection between the work duration during lifetime, the level of development and standard of living is evident from the mere enumeration of top countries: Sweden, the Netherlands, Denmark, UK, Germany and Finland followed by Estonia, as a first country from the Eastern bloc.

Noteworthy is that the Netherlands and Germany not only have very high values of this indicator, but also registered high growth rates in the past decade.

  1. Romania needs to add a couple of years to the duration of active life to catch up the Latin pair France -Spain; as for Portugal, we are too far away from it to think that we can catch up in the next decades. Italy is a year and a half behind us.

One might wonder what the situation would be if the Italians worked as Germans, as the rate between the active lifetime of the two countries is almost equal to the rate of the two standard of living.

  1. It remains incomprehensible why Romania positioned against the clear European trend towards specifically and consistently increasing women’s worklife expectation (see figures underlined in red, including almost anecdotal situation in Spain).

Especially that Romanian women rank second to last, after Greek and Italian women, while men would climb separately about five positions in the rankings, compared to the national averages, to an honourable 36th position (ahead of Latvians and close to the French having an average of 36.6 years).

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