Life expectancy figures illustrate inequality in Switzerland

The Local Switzerland
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Life expectancy figures illustrate inequality in Switzerland
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Swiss life expectancy is on the rise, but your level of education is becoming the dominant factor in how long you live - and your quality of life.


That’s according to a new report from the University of Geneva, which shows that individuals in Switzerland with lower levels of education are living shorter lives and doing so in poorer health. 

The report argues that more should be done to reduce inequality in Switzerland, by removing barriers to education as well as making preventative medical care more accessible. 

Swiss residents from lower socio-economic groups are less likely to visit the doctor for regular check ups, increasing their risk of contracting preventable health conditions. 

From 1990 to 2015 the life expectancy of men in Switzerland rose from 78 to 82 - and from 83 to 86 for women. But for men who have only finished compulsory high school education, there was no such increase - with life expectancy stagnating at 73 years. 

READ: New report highlights shortcomings in Swiss medical care

Men who have received some form of training or further education saw their life expectancy increase to 78 years, while university-educated men have a life expectancy of 81 years - indicating that the gap is widening. 

“The difference in years spent in good health between men with compulsory education and men with tertiary education is 7.6 in 1990, but 8.8 years in 2010, showing that the gap is widening,” the authors noted. 

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There were similar gaps for women, although the gap is shorter - women with basic educational attainment have a life expectancy of 79, while those with a tertiary education have a life expectancy of 84. 

The authors noted that a major reason for a lower gap among women was that older women were less likely to have attained a university education - something which is changing in new generations. 

"The gap between women with secondary and tertiary education is indistinguishable here because our data covers women born in the years 1920-1930, when access to higher education was restricted and few women worked," said Stéphane Cullati, one of the authors of the report. 

"It would be interesting to repeat this survey in 50 years, now that women study and work just as much as men


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