Longevity is not the same as long life expectancy. The term “longevity” places the so-called “health span” at the center of the discussion. This refers to the period in which a person is healthy during their lifetime. Figures show that an increase in life expectancy does not generally lead to a better health span. The WHO calculates that life expectancy worldwide increased by 6.6 years to 73.4 years between 2000 and 2019, while the health span only increased by 5.4 years. The bottom line is that people are sick one year longer.

Figures for Switzerland show a mixed picture. Life expectancy for Swiss women in 2022 was 84.1 years. This corresponds to an increase of 1.3 years compared to 20 years ago. In the same period, however, the health span increased by 2.5 years to 71.2 years. Not so for swiss men. Between 2002 and 2022, their life expectancy increased by 4.2 years to 81.6 years. At the same time, the health span only increased by 3.3 years to 70.8 years.

Closing the gap between life expectancy and health span is the main goal of the longevity approach placing healthy aging at the center of healthcare. However, health span cannot be improved by medical interventions alone. What positively influences health is a mix of different factors requiring a more holistic view of “ageing”. This is shown, among other things, by studies on regions that have an above-average proportion of people who live to be 100 years or older. What characterizes these so-called “blue zones” are positive values for non-biological health determinants such as an intact social life, a healthy diet and a low level of stress.

Studies researching the determinants of health assume that medical care (11%) and biological and genetic conditions (22%) only account for around a third of the overall factors influencing health. Individual behavior (36 percent) and the socio-economic situation (24 percent) are more important, but environmental influences (7 percent) also play a role.












Nevertheless, the biomedical understanding of the ageing process has made great progress in recent years. Prevention and early detection of diseases and health issues play an important role in this. Much is hoped for in this respect from digital technologies such as artificial intelligence, which will allow to bring scientific evidence to preventive measures and increase their acceptance.

However, the topic of “longevity” requires not only an expansion of the concept of health but also better integration of new stakeholders into the healthcare ecosystem. In addition to the technology sector and digitalization, the importance of the food, finance and wellness industries will also increase. In this respect Switzerland is in an excellent position to play a leading global role in the growing trend and market of longevity in the future.


Figures from the World Health Organization


Figures from the Federal Statistical Office


Figures on the impact on health