Three people born in the nineteenth century still alive

Three people born in the nineteenth century are currently still alive. They belong to the exclusive yet rapidly growing group of centenarians in the Netherlands. Since 1979, their number has increased nearly fivefold.

Centenarians by gender 1979–2009

Centenarians by gender 1979–2009

More and more female centenarians

According to provisional figures released by Statistics Netherlands, 1,633 people in the Netherlands had reached triple figures on 1 January 2009, i.e. one in every 10 thousand residents. The group of centenarians is growing fast.

The increase almost exclusively consists of women. A vast majority of centenarians are women. In 1979, one in three centenarians were men, the current ratio is one in eight.

Number of men per 100 women, 2009

Number of men per 100 women, 2009

Extremely old men are rare

Around the age of retirement, the number of men and women is approximately equal, but beyond 65, women are in the majority. The chance for men to reach the age of 100, is much smaller than for women, as male life expectancy is much shorter.

On 1 January 2009, only six men were 105 years or older, as against 56 women. The eldest woman at the time was 111 years old.

Centenarians by age, 2009

Centenarians by age, 200

Half of centenarians make it to their next birthday

Over the past decades, the risk of dying in middle age or between 65 and 80 has dropped significantly. 

The risk of dying for centenarians has changed little over the years. Approximately half of people who have celebrated their 100th, 101st, 102nd and 103rd birthday will make it to their next birthday. In the current group of centenarians, nearly half are 100 years old, one quarter are 101.

Joop Garssen and Carel Harmsen