Sharp rise in female centenarians

Op 1 January 2008, 1,486 people in the Netherlands were 100 years or older. This is 91 more than in 2007. The substantial increase consisted entirely of women. Only 193 of Dutch centenarians are men.

Number of centenarians

Number of centenarians

Increase for women only

The growth in the number of centenarians has been nearly completely accounted for by women in the last quarter of a century. The number of very elderly men has hardly changed at all. The future increase in the number of people aged 100 or older is also expected to consist mainly of women.

Number of  men per 100 women

Number of  men per 100 women

People in their nineties determine the trend

The difference in the trends between men and women are based on the number of people in their nineties. The number of men in their nineties is stagnating as the mortality risk for men rose between the end of the 1960s and the early of the 1980s. This resulted in an increasing imbalance in the sex ratio. At the moment, only one in eight centenarians are men.

Centenarians in some European countries, 2007

Centenarians in some European countries, 2007

Dutch no longer top the list

A few decades ago, the Dutch were among the leaders in Europe in terms of the share of centenarians in the population. Although the figures for some countries are probably less reliable, it is certain that the ranking has changed noticeably in recent years. In a number of south European countries in particular and in Sweden, both life expectancy and the number of people aged 100 or older has risen more strongly than in the Netherlands.

Joop Garssen and Carel Harmsen