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Nonagenarians and centenarians in Switzerland, 1860–2001: a demographic analysis
  1. Jean-Marie Robine1,
  2. Fred Paccaud2
  1. 1Group “Health and Demography”, University of Montpellier 1, France
  2. 2Institute for Social and Preventive Medicine, Faculty of Biology and Medicine of Lausanne, Switzerland
  1. Correspondence to:
 Professor F Paccaud
 IUMSP, Bugnon 17, CH-1005 Lausanne, Switzerland;


Study objective: To explore the rapid rise of the extremely old population, showing the magnitude of the increase and indentifying demographic mechanisms underlying this increase.

Design: Demographic analysis using census data, yearly population estimates, and mortality statistics.

Setting: Switzerland 1860–2001.

Main results: Indicators suggest a strong increase in the number of nonagenarians and centenarians in Switzerland as compared with other countries. The increase is mostly attributable to the decline in mortality after age 80. This decline started in the 1950s.

Conclusion: Nonagenarians and centenarians constitute a new population, which became sizeable after 1950 in Switzerland. There is a need to monitor this population with appropriate demographic and epidemiological indicators.

  • LE, life expectancy
  • CR, centenarian rate
  • CDT, centenarian doubling rate

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  • * Influenza devastated Switzerland in 1918 with a two peak epidemic (July, then October to November); about 58% of the population was infected; the estimated number of deaths was 20 000, most of them in the age range 20 to 50 years, out of a population of 3.9 millions (as of 1 January 1918).

  • Unlike other countries, being born in Switzerland does not imply Swiss citizenship: a formal request has to be made, and accepted by the federal, cantonal, and communal authorities. As a general rule, residence of at least 12 years is a pre-condition.

  • Funding: none.

  • Conflicts of interest: none declared.

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