Italy has Europe's oldest population: Eurostat

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Italy is home to the highest proportion of over-80-year-olds in the EU. File photo: Pexels
15:07 CEST+02:00
Italy is the European country with the highest percentage of the population aged 80 or over, the latest report from Eurostat shows.

The report, released for the 'International Day of Older Persons' on October 1st, revealed that 6.5 percent of Italians had already celebrated their 80th birthday when the data was collected in 2015.

Greece (6.3 percent) and Spain (5.9 percent) had the next highest proportion of people aged over 80, while Ireland and Slovakia had the lowest proportion at just 3.1 percent each.

In 2005, Italy came second in the rankings, with a score of 4.9 percent that left them trailing behind Sweden (5.4 percent). However, in the intervening ten years the figure in the Scandinavian nation has dropped to 5.1 percent, making it the only EU state to experience a decline in the proportion of over-80-year-olds.

READ MORE: Cheese, wine and family: The Italian way to live beyond 100

Once you've reached 80, in Italy you can expect to live for another decade, slightly above the European average of nine years, six months. But France is the country where 80-year-olds have the longest life expectancy, at 11 years.

It's bad news for men, though, as women make up just under two thirds of the over-80's in Italy, a figure in line with the Europe-wide average.

Across the EU, there are almost 27 million over-80's, an increase of seven million compared to 2005.

The longevity of Italians has intrigued scientists for many years, and studies are regularly carried out to try to discover the Mediterranean secret. The number of centenarians in the country has more than tripled over the last 15 years - but why?

The world's oldest woman, Emma Morano, has said her secret is staying single and eating eggs every day.

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Italian and US experts have investigated the extraordinary longevity of residents of Acciaroli, where more than one in 10 - 81 at the mayor's last count - of the village's population of 700 is over 100 years old. They narrowed down a few criteria thought to contribute to the villagers' long lives, including rosemary and olive oil.

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