Life expectancy falls in Switzerland for the first time since 1962

Life expectancy falls in Switzerland for the first time since 1962

Life expectancy has fallen in Switzerland for the first time in over 50 years, after strain caused by COVID on the Swiss healthcare system led to increased mortality rates over the past year.

Elderly people impacted the most by decline in life expectancy

The life expectancy for people born in Switzerland in 2020 dropped by almost a year for men and half a year for women, to 81 and 85,1 years respectively. A report by the Federal Statistical Office (FSO) showed an increase in the death rate and total number of deaths in Switzerland over 2020, which led to the decline in life expectancy. 

The FSO found that the decline in life expectancy was the first seen in Switzerland since 1944 for men and 1962 for women. The biggest decline was in adults aged 65 years and older - a trend clearly driven by COVID-19. 

Impact of COVID on life expectancy in Switzerland

The report was designed to compare the impact of COVID-19 with the Spanish flu pandemic in the early 20th century. The FSO concluded that the number of deaths recorded in 2020 rose to a similar level experienced during the Spanish flu pandemic in the 1910s and 20s.

However, it must be noted the population back then was around half what it is today. FSO further noted that the number of casualties attributed to COVID in 2020 was far lower than the number attributed to Spanish flu in 1918.

Swiss cantons were also affected in similar ways, with areas in western Switzerland bearing the brunt in both pandemics. The report found that the peak in infections occurred at the same time of year, and men were impacted more than women in both diseases. It is hoped that, with hospitals stabilising, it will not be long before the negative trend in life expectancy is reversed.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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