Towards a longer and healthier life

24/06/2014 15:00

If the trend observed in the past three decades with respect to mortality and health is to continue, the age until which people in the Netherlands are free from physical limitations in mobility, sight and hearing will rise further. People’s healthy life expectancy will also increase.

Period with physical limitations will be reduced

The life expectancy of men and women in the Netherlands will increase. In 2013, Statistics Netherlands forecasted that men’s and women’s life expectancy will be respectively nearly 4 and more than 2 years higher in 2030 than in the period 2009-2012.

Generally, growing older comes with limitations in mobility, sight and hearing which cannot be overcome with aids, but health has improved since the 1980s and mortality rates have decreased.  If this trend is to continue, men’s life expectancy without physical limitations will be nearly 5 longer and women’s life expectancy will be more than 4 years longer in 2030. For both genders, this increase will be higher than the total life expectancy increase. People will not only live longer, but will also longer be free from physical limitations.

(Healthy) life expectancy at birth

(Healthy) life expectancy at birth

Longer healthy life expectancy

As people grow older, they will more often feel unhealthy. Physical limitations can play a part in this respect, but not necessarily. In the Netherlands, life expectancy in perceived good health is nearly 7 years lower than life expectancy without physical limitations and has risen less rapidly in recent years. 

If the current trend is to continue, the period of perceived good health will increase by more than 3 years for men and by more than 2 years for women until 2030. The increase is 3 to 4 months less than the total life expectancy increase, so healthy life expectancy will increase, but the period when health is perceived as less good will also increase marginally.

Coen van Duin