Rapid increase life expectancy

29/07/2008 15:00

Last year, female life expectancy at birth was 82.3 years, as against 78.0 years for men. Life expectancy has risen dramatically since 2002.

Life expectancy at birth

Life expectancy at birth

Mortality down since 2002

Female life expectancy at birth was 82.3 years in 2007, i.e. 4.3 years more than for men who have a life expectancy of 78.0 years at birth. Since 1980, the gender gap has narrowed. Male and female life expectancy increased by 5.5 and 3.1 years respectively. The situation has improved considerably after 2002. Despite the ageing population mortality has annually declined since 2002. Such a long period of declining mortality is unprecedented in the Netherlands. In 2007, mortality was over 9 thousand (nearly 7 percent) down on 2002.

Declining mortality by age, 2007 relative to 2002

Declining mortality by age, 2007 relative to 2002

Situation favourable for people in their seventies

The decline in mortality was quite evenly spread across all age groups, but was particularly noticeable among people in their seventies. In 2007, mortality in the age group 70-80 declined by over 5 thousand (nearly 13 percent) relative to 2002. This decline is largely the result of the reduced risk of dying from cardiovascular diseases.

Lower risk of dying by age, 2002-2007

Lower risk of dying by age, 2002-2007

Lower mortality risk for 50 to 80-year-old men

In recent years, the mortality risk declined significantly for both genders. For men aged between 50 and 80, the risk of dying dropped more than for women in the same age bracket. Among the very old, the situation is more favourable for women.

Female life expectancy at birth, 2006

Female life expectancy at birth, 2006

Netherlands not in leading position

Dutch women marginally improved their position on the European record list, but in countries like France and Spain female life expectancy is considerably higher. Belgian and German women also had a somewhat higher life expectancy in 2006. In relative terms, the position of Dutch men on the European life expectancy list is better and comparable to the position French and Spanish men. Swiss, Swedish and Norwegian men, however, enjoy a considerably higher life expectancy.

Joop Garssen and Koos van der Togt