Switzerland tops longevity league in Europe

The legendary Swiss mountaineer Ulrich Inderbinen died this year aged 104 Keystone

Switzerland has more centenarians than any other European nation, thanks to high standards of living, health care and nutrition over the past 50 years.

This content was published on December 14, 2004 - 11:59

Researchers at Lausanne University said the country had the highest life expectancy in Europe.

Proportionally, Switzerland is thought to be second only to Japan in terms of the number of people who have reached 100.

According to the study conducted by the Institute for Social and Preventive Medicine, about 40 out of every 10,000 people born in 1900 in Switzerland made it to their 100th birthday.

Life expectancy has increased by 98 per cent for men and 96 per cent for women in the past century and a half. A slight dip was due to an influenza epidemic in 1918.

“There has been a true increase in centenarians, which started abruptly in the 1950s,” said Professor Fred Paccaud, one of the study’s authors.

He added that in 2000 there were 796 people aged 100 or more in Switzerland.

Women live longer

Swiss women live longer than men, clocking up an average of 83 years, whereas males can expect to make it to their 77th birthday.

“We have about 20 times as many female centenarians as males... and about half of women in Switzerland die after their 85th birthday,” said Paccaud.

Factors that shortened male life spans included smoking and alcohol.

High standards of living were the most important factor in ensuring longevity, according to the study’s findings.

Another factor was that neutral Switzerland, unlike many other European countries, did not suffer major loss of life during the two world wars.

Other research has established that life expectancy around the world has more than doubled over the past two centuries.

This could mean average life expectancy in developed countries will reach 100 in 60 years' time.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

Switzerland is top of the European charts when it comes to centenarians.

High standards of living, healthcare and nutrition in the past 50 years are important factors.

Life expectancy has increased by 98 per cent for men and 96 per cent for women in the past century and a half.

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