Hong Kong Loses Global Longevity Lead to Japan: Impacts of Stress & Health
by: The Beat Asia
January 19, 2024
Hong Kong, once known for its world-leading life expectancy, has been surpassed by Japan, according to new data from the Census and Statistics Department. The average life expectancy for Hong Kong women is now 86.8 years, slightly lower than the average of 87.1 years for Japanese women.
Time magazine reported that Hong Kong held the top position in global longevity rankings since the early 2000s when it overtook Japan. However, with a rise in stress levels and declining physical and mental health amongst the general population, the tables have turned.
For Hong Kong men, the average life expectancy is now 80.7 years, on par with Singapore but falling short of countries like Sweden (81.3 years), Japan (81.1 years), and Norway (80.9 years). The data for 2023 has yet to be released.
It's important to interpret this data with caution, as the report highlights that it may be influenced by the high mortality rates during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hong Kong experienced one of the highest COVID-19 death rates in the world during the fifth wave, with nearly 10,000 deaths in a city with a population of 7.4 million. Stringent measures implemented during this period also contributed to increased stress and deteriorating mental health.
Japan's rise to the top of the rankings may not come as a surprise. The country has a significant number of centenarians, reaching a record high of 92,139 individuals in 2023. With an average of 73.4 centenarians per 100,000 people, Japan has one of the most rapidly aging populations globally, comparable to Hong Kong.
Notably, regions like Okinawa in southern Japan and Nuoro Province are part of the Blue Zone areas, where people tend to live longer than average. These regions offer insights into lifestyle factors that contribute to longevity.
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