Life expectancy in the Netherlands is increasing, but people also enjoy more years without physical limitations. Life expectancy without physical limitations increased by more than 5 years over the past quarter of a century. Healthy life expectancy increased in the male population, but life expectancy without chronic diseases diminished.
(Healthy) life expectancy at birth, men, 1981-2007
Men in particular enjoy more years in good health
Since the early 1980s, healthy life expectancy in the male population increased from 60 to nearly 65 in 2007. Life expectancy without physical limitations also increased by approximately 5 years to nearly 71 years. Life expectancy without chronic diseases, on the other hand, was reduced to 48 years.
(Healthy) life expectancy at birth, women, 1981-2007
Women do not live more years in good health
Unlike for men, healthy life expectancy in the female population did not increase, but stabilised at around 63 years. As total female life expectancy has increased marginally, women currently spend a longer period of their lives in relatively poor health.
Life expectancy without physical limitations improved for both genders from about 64 years in 1983 to 70 years in 2007. Just like for men, female life expectancy without chronic diseases dropped, but even more dramatically than for men. In 2007, women’s life expectancy without chronic diseases was only 42 years at birth.
More chronic diseases, fewer physical limitations
Life expectancy without physical limitations has improved for both genders, whereas, at the same time, life expectancy without chronic diseases has been reduced. This implies that more people suffering from chronic diseases live a life free from physical limitations. Better equipment, like wheeled walkers, and improved surgical treatment (e.g. artificial joints) have made older people more mobile. The increase in the number of years people suffer from chronic diseases is due to earlier diagnosis and better treatment methods. As a result, people spend a greater part of their lives in poor health.
Jan-Willem Bruggink, Bob Lodder and Mohammed Kardal