Cheers, to Health and (Not Necessarily) Wealth - OZY | A Modern Media Company

Cheers, to Health and (Not Necessarily) Wealth

Cheers, to Health and (Not Necessarily) Wealth

By Sanjena Sathian

Elderly couple hiking in Swiss Alps above Lauterbrunnen near Grindenwald with Breithorn Peak at 3782m
SourceChad Ehlers/Alamy


Because the wealth of nations lies somewhere in the lifespan of nations.

By Sanjena Sathian

Japan, Switzerland, Spain, Italy and Australia: These are the five countries where, according to the OECD index, you’re most likely to live the longest. Till how old?


That’s the average in Japan, anyway — the country where people had the highest average life expectancy. Just check the (Guinness World) records: Today’s oldest living person is a 113-year-old Japanese woman.

But while global average life expectancy is going up in general — for both genders — the global gender gap in life expectancy is closing. Why? Researchers guess at it, but here’s one theory: Women are increasingly doing all the rough and tough stuff (from smoking to driving) that they never got near before. But, overall, women still live longer than men, and the reasons are still varied and debated.


The country that’s seen the biggest jump in quality of living since the 1970s? Burgeoning Korea — which might spur you to draw all kinds of conclusions about a country’s wealth/growth and long life spans.

Not so fast. 

Countries that fell below average and worse: the U.S., India, Russia, China, Turkey, Brazil and South Africa. In other words, the majority of the countries that drive our global economy have the worst life expectancies. 

Then again, Adam Smith lived to be 67. A ripe old age for his time. So much for the Hobbesian ”nasty, brutish and short,” eh?

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