Life expectancy in Switzerland the highest in western Europe, study finds

Life expectancy in Switzerland the highest in western Europe, study finds

The residents of Switzerland have the longest life expectancy in western Europe, a new study from the German Federal Institute for Demographic Research (BiB) and Max Planck Institute has revealed. While other countries like Germany have seen life expectancy stagnate or even fall in recent years, Swiss life expectancy has remained high and stable.

Switzerland tops life expectancy report for western Europe

According to the report, those currently aged 65 years or older in Switzerland can expect to live to an average age of 83,5 years, the highest of the 13 western European countries included in the study. The alpine nation was closely followed by Spain (83,2), Sweden (83,1) and Italy (82,8).

In the report, Germany was ranked worst out of the countries analysed with a life expectancy of 80,6. They were followed by the United Kingdom (81), Denmark (81,3) and the Netherlands (81,7). 

Why is life expectancy in Switzerland so high?

In explaining why life expectancy in Switzerland is so high, Mathias Lerch, director of the Swiss Urban Demography Laboratory at EPF in Lausanne, argued that the reason for the country’s success is that higher salaries, low unemployment and an “effective” system of pensions and social security means that residents have a better standards of wellbeing than people in other countries.

Speaking to the Südkurier, Lerch noted that compared to the 12 other countries on the list, residents of Switzerland tend to exercise more, eat healthier and are at a lower risk of obesity and hypertension. Consumption of alcohol and tobacco has also been decreasing in recent years - the number of people who drink every day has halved since 1991 and the number of smokers has fallen albeit much slower, according to the latest data from Addiction Switzerland.

Swiss healthcare system the main driver of good life expectancy

While many will complain about its cost, Lerch noted the Swiss healthcare system is one of the main drivers of high life expectancy. Unlike in nations like Germany, where slow diagnosis of conditions is one of the main reasons for stagnating life expectancy, Swiss GPs are better at regular check-ups, early diagnosis and preventative examinations.

In addition, Swiss hospitals are under comparatively less pressure than other systems in Europe, meaning that have more time to find effective diagnoses.

Migration helps boost life expectancy

Finally, Lerch concluded that migration also has its part to play. He argued that due to the restrictions around residence permits, more and more people are immigrating to Switzerland from nations where life expectancy is already high, giving the country a supply young and comparatively healthy people to join the workforce and become residents.

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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