From 1950 to 2010, the number of centenarians in Switzerland virtually doubled every ten years. From 2012 onwards, this trend stabilised: there are now between 1500 and 1600 persons in this age group, more than 80% of whom are women. At the end of 2019, the oldest woman in Switzerland was aged 111.
According to the longitudinal analysis on mortality (generational life tables 1876-2030), it can be estimated that one in four girls and one in six boys born in 2019 may become centenarians.
The number of centenarians will probably increase again over the next few decades because of longer life expectancy.
Cantonal distribution of centenarians
In 2019, Switzerland had 19 centenarians per 100 000 residents. The cantons with the greatest concentration of centenarians were Basel-Stadt and Ticino with more than 30 centenarians per 100 000 residents. Those with the lowest number were Zug and Aargau with 11 per 100 000 residents.
The ranking of the cantons is slightly different when the number of centenarians is compared to that of seniors (65 years or over). The top trio of Basel-Stadt, Geneva and Schaffhausen recorded 188, 174 and 142 centenarians respectively per 100 000 seniors.
Centenarians are not always widows or widowers
In terms of marital status, the vast majority of centenarians are widows or widowers. It is however interesting to note that almost one centenarian in ten has never changed their marital status throughout their life and has thus always remained single.
Centenarians in Europe
With 87 centenarians per 100 000 residents, Greece recorded the highest rate in Europe on 1st January 2019. Switzerland was in the middle of the ranks (18) with values similar to Germany, Hungary and Denmark.
Statistical sources and concepts