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The 10 countries where you'll live longest

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Which countries offer you the best chance of reaching a ripe old age in today's world?

According to the Organizations for Economic Co-operation and Development's (OECD) report Health at a Glance 2013, spending on healthcare and average household income do not necessarily equate to longer lives. While the United States' average life expectancy has risen from 70.9 years in 1970 to 78.7 years in 2011, and the country spends far more on health care than other countries, this life expectancy only comes in 26th on a global list.

In contrast, the research says that residents of Switzerland born in 2011 are expected to live 82.8 years -- as they are generally healthier, and do not have such high rates of obesity-related illnesses, cardiovascular disease, and cerebrovascular disease such as strokes and aneurysms.

Out of 40 countries measured, the top ten countries are:

1. Switzerland

  • Life expectancy: 82.8 years
  • GDP per capita: $51,227
  • Health spending per capita: $5,643

In Switzerland, 81.3 percent of adults reported good health. Spending $5,643 per capita on its citizens' health, the country's expenditure on health is the third largest reported. While Switzerland does have universal care in place, the country also requires residents to purchase private insurance.

2. Italy

  • Life expectancy: 82.7 years
  • GDP per capita: $32,648
  • Health spending per capita: $3,012

In Italy, 64.7 percent of adults reported good health. Spending $3,012 per capita on citizen health, the country has over four doctors per 1,000 residents, above the international average. Healthy diets, only 10 percent of adults registered as obese and a drop in alcohol consumption are all thought to contribute to longer life expectancy.

3. Japan

  • Life expectancy: 82.7 years
  • GDP per capita: $33,843
  • Health spending per capita: $3,213

In Japan, 30 percent of adults reported good health. Spending $3,213 per capita on its citizens' health, the country's women tend to live the longest of all countries measured, heart disease accounts for only 39 deaths per 100,000 people, and diets are generally healthy.

4. Iceland

  • Life expectancy: 82.4 years
  • GDP per capita: $36,611
  • Health spending per capita: $3,305

In Iceland, 77.8 percent of adults reported good health. Spending $3,305 per capita on its citizens, the country's men live the longest of all countries measured, living over 80 years on average. Alcohol consumption has increased in the last few years, but smoking rates have dropped and diabetes is an uncommon affliction, especially in comparison to the United States.

5. Spain

  • Life expectancy: 82.4 years
  • GDP per capita: $33,045
  • Health spending per capita: $3,072

In Spain, 75.3 percent of adults reported good health. Spending $3,072 per capita on its citizens, the country's mortality rates from cancer, heart disease and cerebrovascular disease are all lower than the OECD averages.

6. France

  • Life expectancy: 82.2 years
  • GDP per capita: $35,395
  • Health spending per capita: $4,118

In France, 67.6 percent of adults reported good health. Spending $4,118 per capita on its citizens, the country has the second-lowest rate of cerebrovascular diseases.

7. Australia

  • Life expectancy: 82 years
  • GDP per capita: $44,201
  • Health spending per capita: $3,800

In Australia, 85.4 percent of adults reported good health. Spending $3,800 per capita on its citizens, the country's healthcare system still has to cope with rising rates of obesity -- but Australia does have a lower-than-average smoking rate, as only 15.1 percent of adults reported the habit in 2011, in comparison to an average in OECD of 20.9 percent.

8. Sweden

  • Life expectancy: 81.9 years
  • GDP per capita: $41,461
  • Health spending per capita: $3,925

In Sweden, 79.9 percent of adults reported good health. Spending $3,925 per capita on healthcare for citizens, the country is well-known for its universal healthcare system, introduced in 1913, coupled with a low smoking rate and few cancer-based mortalities.

9. Israel

  • Life expectancy: 81.8 years
  • GDP per capita: $28,958
  • Health spending per capita: $2,239

In Israel, 81.5 percent of adults reported good health. Spending $2,239 per capita on its citizens' health, the country spends little on healthcare, but alcohol consumption is lower than many countries -- despite recent rises -- and has a relatively young population.

10. Norway

  • Life expectancy: 81.4 years
  • GDP per capita: $61,060
  • Health spending per capita: $5,669

In Norway, 73.3 percent of adults reported good health. Spending $5,669 per capita on its citizens' healthcare, the wealthy country implements a universal healthcare system, and has cut down smoking rates to 17 percent of Norwegian adults.

High spending on healthcare is not necessarily equated to long life, as only three of the top ten spenders per capita are within the list above. In addition, obesity is now seen as a worldwide risk to health, as six of the countries with the longest life expectancy also report the lowest rates of obesity.

However, the number of doctors available does seem to have an impact, as in all but one country on the top ten list exceed the global average of 3.16 doctors per 1,000 residents.

Via: 24/7 Wall Street


Image credit: Flickr

— By on December 3, 2013, 4:48 AM PST

Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure