Antibodies.com has released a new study, ‘Lifestyle vs Lifespan’, which analysed statistics from the WHO and found trends between the average working week and average life expectancy. They found that a working week of more than 48 hours was associated with a 9-year decrease in life expectancy.
This research suggests that people who work in roles that might require more than 48 hours of work each week might want to factor in the long-term consequences of long working weeks when deciding whether to pursue a long-term career.
If you are working less than 48 hours each week, don’t celebrate just yet. The research from Antibodies.com indicated that a 40-hour working week could reduce life expectancy by up to two years. This is not as dramatic a decrease as seen in those who work 48 hours or more, but it is still a relevant statistic for many of us.
Lesotho records the lowest life expectancy
The lowest life expectancy was recorded in Lesotho. Interestingly, while the life expectancy only differed from the second-lowest, Central African Republic, by 0.1 years, Lesotho has a considerably shorter working week. CAR has a 52-hour working week and pays for it with a life expectancy of just 53. Lesotho, meanwhile, has only a 45-hour workweek, a relatively long working week but less than 52.
Of course, life expectancy is determined by a number of factors, of which lifestyle is hugely important. Our lifestyles are often tied to our jobs in several ways. In fact, it’s the jobs we do that determine the lifestyle that’s available to us. Part of that is to do with the money we earn and part of that is to do with the hours we work.
Of the 13 countries that were deemed to have a low life expectancy, 38 per cent of them – five in total — had working weeks that exceeded 45 hours. By contrast, only one country had an average working week of over 45 hours and a long lifespan. Switzerland boasts an average lifespan of 82 years with an average working week of 50 hours. This puts Switzerland behind only Japan when it comes to the average lifespan.
Switzerland is a very interesting case because they not only have a relatively long working week for such a long life expectancy, but they also have a high level of alcohol consumption. The difference in life expectancy between Switzerland and comparable countries in Europe may well be down to the unusually clean Swiss air. The Swiss record some of the lowest levels of pollution every year.
As Stewart Newlove, the Managing Director at Antibodies.com, has made clear, there are numerous factors that affect life expectancy. For example, among the countries with the lowest life expectancy, vaccination rates for children are lower, as are the rates of infant mortality, which can skew the average.
But even these correlations aren’t perfect. The Kingdom of Lesotho has one of the lowest life expectancies in the world, but a childhood vaccination rate of 93 per cent, one of the highest in the world. Its short life expectancy is due to the fact that diseases like AIDS cannot be vaccinated against and diseases like tuberculosis occur at a higher rate than average. These diseases are difficult to fight without the resources of a much bigger state.