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OECD: Swiss baby boys live the longest

  • By The Swiss Times
  • 30 January 2023
Swiss boys born in 2021 are expected to live, on average, longer than their male counterparts around the world. 
OECD: Swiss baby boys live the longest

Being born male in Switzerland has its advantages, according to the OECD.

Swiss toddlers, specifically boys born in 2021, have the highest life expectancy among all men, according to new research from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) on global longevity.

“A boy born in our country in 2021 will have the highest possible life expectancy at 81.9 years, just ahead of Icelanders, Norwegians and Japanese,” University of Fribourg sociologist Stéphane Cullati told local newspaper Matin Dimanche (French). While baby girls born in Switzerland in 2021 are expected to live more than 85 years, they stand in fourth place behind Japan, South Korea and Spain.

OECD: Swiss baby boys live the longest

Access to nature, like Lake Lucerne (pictured above) may be one reason the older Swiss population lives healthy, long lives.

The land of centenarians

The news is not exactly new to those who live in Switzerland. The Alpine nation is known as the “land of centenarians” among longevity researchers – and the number of 100-year-olds only increases exponentially every year. In 1990, there were close to 400 centenarians in Switzerland; in 2000, there were nearly 800. Today, close to 2,000 100-year-olds live in Switzerland, with about 75% of them being women (for reference, Switzerland’s population is 8.7 million.).

In some cantons, like Fribourg, reaching the milestone has become so common that there is a protocol in place: the centenarian may choose either 100 bottles of locally made wine, a gift voucher to local artisan or to have a 1,500 chf donation made in their name. Most go for the wine, local authorities say.

Knowing that one’s 100th birthday may be a reality can help Swiss “plan ahead,” according to Cullati, because when a Swiss person retires at 65, they “still have an average of 15 to 20 years of good health ahead of them.”

OECD: Swiss baby boys live the longest

Making exercise a part of daily life appears to be another reason why the Swiss live healthy lives well into their 80s.

Who makes it 100?

Longevity researchers have become so interested in understanding how and why Swiss people live longer and healthier lives than many other populations that they launched the SWISS100 Project to study centenarians.

“According to some demographic estimates, one out of every two children born in Switzerland after the year 2000 will become a centenarian,” SWISS100 researcher Daniela Jopp told Matin Dimanche.

Looking at the statistics on who makes it to their 100th birthday, one factor seems to have a major effect: education. Swiss university graduates live longer and healthier lives compared to their counterparts who only finish compulsory education, according to another study headed up by Cullati.

“The difference is significant, especially for men,” Cullati said, adding that in 1994 “the gap between the two was 7.6 years. Now, graduates will live for 8.8 years longer in good health.”

Researchers believe that college-educated Swiss may have more access to medical literature and advice; they “are more aware of prevention campaigns, are more concerned about their health and consult [doctors] more regularly.”

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