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EXPLAINED: Why living in Switzerland can prolong your life

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
EXPLAINED: Why living in Switzerland can prolong your life
Healthy lifestyle boosts longevity. Photo: Pixabay

Swiss life expectancy is currently one of the highest in the world but what exactly is it about living in this country that can extend an average lifespan?


All the metrics show that Switzerland is near the top of the charts in terms of life expectancy of its population.

A 2024 study by the German Federal Institute for Demographic Research found that nowhere else in Western Europe do people live as long as in Switzerland, and the country compares particularly well with its neighbour Germany.

That's not the only study that reveals Swiss life expectancy is better than elsewhere.

According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), an average lifespan for a person born in Switzerland in 2022 is about 83.9 years, for both sexes combined. 

This places Switzerland in the second place worldwide, just behind Japan, and in the top spot in Europe.

How can this ‘Swiss phenomenon’ be explained?

If you are hoping that eating chocolate and cheese can boost your life expectancy, probably not so much.

But there are several other reasons why this is so.

For instance:

Good life conditions

Generally speaking, the increase in longevity can be explained by good living conditions and a generally healthy lifestyle, according an analysis by RTS public broadcaster.

And the majority of Switzerland's residents can't complain on that score.


The nature

The Swiss love the outdoors, which provide plenty of opportunities for a healthy lifestyle.

In their free time, they take to hiking trails, cycling, and others sports and recreational activities.

All this boosts their physical health – and mental well-being as well.


Switzerland has one the best healthcare systems, which is vital for maintaining the population's health.

Its private (though expensive) health insurance covers all medically-necessary treatments.

In the 2024 study by the German Federal Institute for Demographic Research it was given as the main reason for Swiss longevity.

“The Swiss medical system is less overwhelmed than that of its neighbours,” said demographer Mathias Lerch.

“Family doctors have more time to devote to their patients. Also, regular check-ups, early diagnosis, and preventive measures are more common in Switzerland.

According to demographer Philippe Wanner: “Switzerland benefits from a good health structure, and its health system is efficient in international comparison."

Additionally, in terms of wait times for doctor appointments and medical procedures Switzerland beats many other countries.

According to an OECD survey on how long patients in various countries typically wait for an appointment with a specialist, the share of people in Switzerland waiting a month or more is 23 percent, compared to 36 percent in France, 52 percent in Sweden, and 61 percent in Norway.

READ ALSO : How long is the wait for medical procedures in Switzerland?
So the high quality of — and quick access to — healthcare services goes a long way in explaining why the Swiss live so long.


High quality of life

Again according to OECD’s Better Life Index, “Switzerland outperforms in income, jobs, education, health, environmental quality, social connections, safety and life satisfaction."

All these qualities boost mental well-being — an important factor in overall health which, in turn, contributes to longevity.

In fact, among responses to The Local’s recent survey about why foreigners want to retire in Switzerland, “the quality of medicine” and “the quality of life” were cited as two reasons. 

READ ALSO: The reasons why foreigners want to stay and retire in Switzerland


The structure of the population

Demographics also plays a role in longevity, Wanner said.

He credits Switzerland’s high level of education, with those who are educated being “more health-conscious. We know that, statistically, they live longer than people with only secondary education or without any training.”

Peaceful and prosperous life

In comparison to many other nations, neutral Switzerland has not known any armed or civil conflicts, its politics is mostly uneventful, and economy comparatively stable.

All this is more conducive to longevity  than a life full of strife, which takes an emotional toll and can hasten illnesses.


Comments (1)

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A 2024/02/17 20:54
Great article!

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