Hong Kong citizens have the highest life expectancy rate in the world, according to a recent report from the Japanese health and welfare ministry.
The research revealed that women in Hong Kong live up to the average age of 87.32 years while their male counterparts have an average life expectancy of 81.24 years. Women from Japan are not too far behind with an average of 87.05 years, South China Morning Post reports.
For men, the number two position is shared by Icelandic and Swiss males with an average life expectancy of 81 years. The overall gap between the life expectancy of the genders fell by 0.07 years last year, compared with figures from the previous years.
For decades, Japanese women have held the record for the world’s longest average life expectancy since 1985. In 2011, however, the devastation and death toll caused by the earthquake and tsunami in north-eastern Japan have caused the numbers to drop and Hong Kong women overtook them in that same year. Japanese women once again took the top position in 2012 and have stayed there for three more years.
According to the researchers, medical breakthroughs in treatment and technology have helped Hong Kong dwellers to live longer. Hong Kong health experts, on the other hand, believe that low smoking rates in the country may also have a huge impact in the findings.
“Smoking in Hong Kong compared with 30 years ago has been reduced by half,” said University of Hong Kong public health professor Lam Tai-Hing. He added that according to recent local studies, only 19% of Hong Kong men and only 3% of local women smoked cigarettes.
Lam also pointed out that in Japan, 30% of men and 10% of women smoked, so he believes the trend for Hong Kong having the highest life expectancy rates will continue in the future.
Clinical assistant professor of public health at HKU, Michael Ni Yuxuan, shared the same opinion. “Hong Kong has extremely low tobacco rates compared with the UK, US and Japan,” he said.
Lam, however noted that differences in living conditions between Hong Kong and Japan should also be factored in.
“Hong Kong is a city. Japan is a whole country,” he said, “In general, people in the city have longer lives, and people in Hong Kong have good access to education, clean water and electricity,” he concluded.