VILNIUS - Lithuanian women are nearly the youngest in Europe to get married and bear children, recent statistics shows. According to Eurostat, the European Commission's statistical office, Lithuanians are close to the youngest of all EU residents to get married - with women and men marrying for the first time at an average age of 24 and 26, respectively. Poles, Slovaks and Latvians start families at a similar age.
EU-wide, the average age of women and men getting married is 27 and 30, respectively.
Eurostat reported that EU residents are increasingly starting families at older ages. In 1980, for example, European men were marrying for the first time at the age of 26 and women at the age of 23.
As far as child bearing, Lithuanian women today give birth earlier, at 27, than females in other European states. The EU average shows that most women have babies at the age of 29.
In all three Baltic states men's life expectancy is 65 years - 10 years less than the EU average. The average life expectancy for women in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia is 76 years - several years shorter than the EU average.
The Baltic states also rank first in many negative categories: the number of tuberculosis cases, number of deaths from heart disease and suicide, for which Lithuania is in first place. According to 1999 data, there were 77 male suicides and some 12 female suicides in a population of 100,000.
On a brighter note, Lithuania ranks third according to its number of doctors per 100,000 people (some 380 doctors). Also Lithuania also boasts the highest education levels among the three Baltic countries. According to 2002 data, 85 percent of the country's population has received a secondary education.