Israeli soldiers pull a rubber boat as they take part in a drill in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Ashdod, southern Israel, Nov. 8, 2016. REUTERS/Amir Cohen

Israeli men have one of the highest life expectancies in the world with a projected lifespan of nearly 81 years, according to a new study. Researchers believe that the country’s mandatory military service is indirectly responsible for the phenomenon.

According to the World Health Organization, the average life expectancy for Israeli men in 2015 was 80.6 years, and much greater than the worldwide average of 68.5 years. According to researchers at the Taub Center for Social Policy Studies, the higher-than-average life expectancy among Israeli males is a result of a mandatory 32-month service in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF).

“In Israel, the army is one of the agencies with a particular status that allows it to impact public health,” Prof. Alex Weinreb said, in a statement released Wednesday.

Weinreb said that the military service contributes to Israeli men’s physical fitness that improves their overall health and life expectancy.

Data from more than 130 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries analyzed by Weinreb showed that male populations in countries with a mandatory military service lived - on average - three years longer than their civil counterparts.

“In Israel, the army is one of the agencies with a particular status that allows it to impact public health,” he said, adding that enhancing overall public health is not a stated goal of military service.

In his research, Weinreb first examined primary variables that are typically considered in life-expectancy studies. These include, a country’s levels of development and education, affluence, and measures of inequality. Other criteria taken into account were the amount spent on health and the general accessibility to medical care, while a data set included demographic characteristics like population growth, crowding and fertility rates.

Weinreb found that while the standard variables could account for over 80 percent of the variance in life expectancy among other countries, it didn’t sufficiently explain why Israeli men live so long. Because of this, he included another layer of variables of geography and religion.

Following the inclusion, it was noted that populations located along a coast – such as Israel’s — are generally healthier and have a higher longevity.

Finally, Weinreb added another variable, which was the contribution of IDF service to Israeli men’s overall health and wellness. He noted that the prominent role physical training plays in military service, and pointed to Israel’s low rates of cardiovascular disease and other medical conditions.

The mortality patterns among Arabs and Jews in Israel also supported his findings, he said.

“If Israel did not have the compulsory military service and spending that it currently has, male life expectancy in Israel would probably be much lower,” he said, adding that compulsory military service is “not a cure-all,” but there is “some evidence supporting [military conscription’s] positive influence on public health."