The life expectancies at birth for Dutch men and women were 79.2 and 82.9 years respectively in 2011. Male life expectancy has improved rapidly and as a result, the life expectancy gender gap has narrowed considerably.
Life expectancy for men rises faster than for women
Over the entire period 1985-2011, life expectancy for men has increased more rapidly than for women. Between 1985 and 2000, life expectancy at birth for men grew by 2.5 years, as against only 0.9 years for women. In the following years, male life expectancy improved quickly. Over the period 2000-2011, male life expectancy increased by no less than 3.6 years. The increase for women over the same period was 2.3 years.
Life expectancy at birth, men and women
Dutch women falling behind in Europe
In most European countries, female life expectancy has risen faster than in the Netherlands. Thirty years ago, Dutch women had the highest life expectancy in Europe. In 2010, the life expectancy of Dutch women had fallen behind that of most countries in Northern, Southern and Western Europe, but Dutch men rank higher on the life expectancy list. Currently, they take sixth place in Europe, behind Switzerland, Sweden, Italy, Spain and Norway.
Life expectancy at birth in Europe, men and women, 2010
Gender gap closing rapidly
As a result of the rapid increase in the life expectancy of men in the Netherlands, the gender gap is narrowing and was reduced to only 3.7 years in 2011, as against more than 6.5 years in the mid-1980s. The gender gap is also narrow compared to other countries in Europe. Only in Sweden and the United Kingdom, the gender gap was smaller in 2010 than in the Netherlands. In the countries in Eastern Europe, the life expectancy gap between men and women is much wider.
Differences in life expectancy at birth in Europe, men and women, 2010
Lenny Stoeldraijer and Joop Garssen