Good Infrastructure Prolongs Life, Study Finds
The nondescript satellite town of Uijeongbu in Gyeonggi Province has the highest number centenarians in Korea with 115 out of every 1,000 senior citizens.
Prof. Kim Jong-in at Wonkwang University conducted a survey in 114 areas with two or more centenarians across the country and published it in the International Journal of Aging and Human Development.
It counts only people who were between 65 and 69 years old in 1975 and have lived in those areas since then. In fact it excludes Seoul, Busan and the country's other five biggest cities because people there move around too much to make data collection viable.
The study estimates that 1.6 percent of senior citizens were over 100 in 2011.
Bucheon in Gyeonggi Province had the second highest rate of centenarians with 93 in every 1,000 senior citizens, followed by Seongnam (84), Anyang (80), Goyang (68), Suwon (49), Pyeongtaek (39), Yongin (37) and Paju (34), all in Gyeonggi Province near Seoul.
But the top six areas do not seem to benefit from particularly healthful environment or life-affirming natural beauty. Instead, they just have a higher standard of living and better infrastructure than the rest of the country.
Minimum household spending stood at W2.62 million per month in 2011, compared to an overall average of W2.03 million. The economically active population was 396 persons per 1,000 people, compared to an average of just 90 persons. And sewage systems covered 98 percent of the area, compared to an average of 68 percent.
"The results suggest that whether you can live past 100 depends not only on personal factors like exercise and eating habits but also on better economic conditions and infrastructure," Kim said.