Switzerland found to have the second highest life expectancy in Europe

Switzerland found to have the second highest life expectancy in Europe

The latest data from Eurostat has revealed that people in Switzerland have the second highest life expectancy in Europe. Experts explained that the alpine nation’s consistently good scores are a result of effective healthcare, education and some lifestyle choices.

People in Switzerland have second longest life expectancy in Europe

According to the results, reported by Watson, average life expectancy in Switzerland has increased by 6,1 years between 1991 and 2021, up to a total of 83,9 years. Life expectancy in the alpine nation is officially the second longest in the European Union and EFTA region, only behind the country’s little brother Liechtenstein with 84,4 years.

Switzerland was followed by Spain (83,3), Iceland (83,4) and Norway (83,2) and is way ahead of other major European nations like Germany (80,8), the Netherlands (81,4) and Austria (81,3). The results for 2021 complete 20 consecutive years of Switzerland placing in the podium top three. 

Ticino found to have longest life expectancy in Europe 

In fact, when broken down by region, one Swiss canton has the highest life expectancy in the EU and EFTA: Ticino took first place in 2021, with an average life expectancy of 85,7. In terms of the rest of Switzerland, the second highest life expectancy was found in the area around Lake Geneva and Valais (84,8), followed by central Switzerland (83,9), Zurich and north-western cantons (83,8), Bern, Fribourg and Neuchâtel (83,5), with eastern Switzerland placing bottom with 83 years.

Demographics expert from the University of Geneva, Philippe Wanner, told Watson that average life expectancy in Switzerland has increased by an average of two years per decade for “150 years” mainly due to innovations in healthcare. “In the 1960s and 1970s, for example, there were not many ways to treat heart disease, which today is treated on an outpatient basis,” he noted.

“Switzerland benefits from a good health structure, its health system is rather efficient in international comparison,” Wanner argued, adding that the composition of the Swiss population also plays an important role. He explained that average levels of education in Switzerland are higher than the rest of Europe, suggesting that those who are more educated "are generally a little more health conscious; we know that, statistically, they live longer than people with secondary education or without training.” 

Wanner also pointed out that people in Switzerland, especially the elderly, can call on “greater financial resources” compared to other nations, meaning access to care is more readily available. Interestingly, he also said that immigration has its part to play, explaining: "Switzerland is a territory strongly marked by migration: people who migrate are often in good health, while migrants in poor health tend to return home: this migrant population is therefore generally in good health, and draws the life expectancy upwards.”

Balkan and Black Sea region has Europe's lowest life expectancy

In contrast to Liechtenstein and Switzerland, the bottom of the Eurostat ranking was occupied by Bulgaria, with an average life expectancy of just 71,4 years - 12,5 years less than Switzerland. Bulgaria was followed by other nations in the Balkan and Black Sea region, namely Romania and Serbia (72,8).

Wanner explained that certain “health behaviours” are to largely blame for the poor scores. “The fall of the Berlin Wall led to a sharp reduction in life expectancy in these countries, particularly among men, due to cardiovascular diseases caused by excessive consumption of alcohol,” he claimed.

10 European countries with the highest life expectancy

In all, here are the countries in Europe with the highest life expectancy:

  • 1. Liechtenstein (84,4)
  • 2. Switzerland (83,9)
  • 3. Spain (83,3)
  • =4. Iceland (83,2)
  • =4. Norway (83,2)
  • 6. Sweden (83,1)
  • =7. Italy (82,7)
  • =7. Luxembourg (82,7)
  • 9. Malta (82,5)
  • 10. Ireland (82,4)

For more information about the study, check out the Eurostat website.

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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