Good health lasts just as long for men and women

12/12/2006 14:00

The average life expectancy at birth in the Netherlands was 4.4 years longer for women than for men in 2005. The number of years men and women live in good health is about the same, however.

In 2005 the Dutch average life expectancy at birth was 78.9 years. For men it was 77.2 years, for women 81.6 years. However, women do not enjoy more years of good health than men. The average life expectancy in experienced good health in the period 2001–2005 was 61.8 years for men and 60.8 years for women. For life expectancy without physical limitations, too, there were only small differences between men and women.

Men live for longer without chronic disease

Life expectancy without chronic disease did differ substantially between men and women: for men this was 47.3 years, compared with 41.1 years for women. One of the explanations for this difference is that chronic gastrointestinal disease, migraine, rheumatoid disorders and arthritis are twice as prevalent among women as among men.

Life expectancy at birth, 2001-2005

Life expectancy at birth, 2001-2005

No sex differences in healthy years at 65 years of age

In 2005 the life expectancy for 65 year-old men in the Netherlands was 15.9 years, for 65 year-old women it was 19.6 years. On average 65 year-old men will enjoy another ten years without physical limitations and four years without chronic disease. The life expectancy in experienced good health was 8.3 years for 65 year-old men and 9.3 years for 65 year-old women.
So, just as at birth, at the age of 65 women have a longer life expectancy, but there is hardly any difference in the number of healthy years. The years that women live longer than men are therefore often years of ill health.

Life expectancy at 65 years of age, 2001-2005

Life expectancy at 65 years of age, 2001-2005

Experienced good health shorter in the south

The average life expectancy is about the same in all regions of the country. Life expectancy without chronic disease and life expectancy without physical limitations hardly differed regionally in the period 2001–2005. The life expectancy in experienced good health, however, was on average one and a half years shorter in the south of the country than in the rest of the country: on average 60.5 years (average 62 years).

Average life expectancy per region, 2001-2005

Average life expectancy per region, 2001-2005

Kim Knoops and Rom Perenboom (TNO)