Life expectancy gap between Dutch women and women elsewhere in Europe widening


The life expectancy gap between Dutch women and women in other European countries is widening. Newborn Dutch girls have a life expectancy of 83.3 years (figures refer to 2014). Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports that in recent years female life expectancy at birth has risen more rapidly in most European countries than in the Netherlands.

Dutch men occupy seventh place in Europe

Three decades ago, life expectancy of Dutch women was one of the highest in Europe. Nowadays, female life expectancy in the Netherlands has fallen behind compared to women in Northern, Southern and Western Europe, but Dutch men are ranking high on the list. The most recent life expectancy figures show that Dutch men occupy seventh place on the European scale behind Italy, Spain, Sweden, Cyprus, Luxembourg and Malta (2013). Last year, baby boys born in the Netherlands had a life expectancy of 79.9 years, i.e. 3.6 years more than in 2003. Dutch baby girls gained 2.4 years since 2003.

People in Southern Europe have highest life expectancy

Unhealthy habits like smoking, drinking and overeating, but also the place of birth largely determine a person’s life expectancy. Newborn babies in Spain and Italy have the highest life expectancy in the European Union; babies born in Latvia and Lithuania have the lowest life expectancy. The life expectancy gap between these two regions amounts to nearly ten years.

Men gain more years than women

Life expectancy has risen substantially during the first half of the 20th century. Various factors are credited with the increase in life expectancy, like more possibilities for detection and prevention of diseases and improved treatment methods in the broadest spectrum of health care. The gap in life expectancy at birth between men and women has also narrowed in recent years: from 6.5 years in the mid-1980s to 3.4 years in 2014. The fact that the difference between the number of male and female smokers has become smaller since 1980 is one of the most important factors in this respect.

Life expectancy gap between Eastern and Southern Europe nearly ten years

Southern European men and women enjoy a high life expectancy. Spanish girls had a life expectancy at birth of more than 86 years in 2013, versus 78.6 years for their Bulgarian counterparts. The differences are larger in men. An Italian ragazzo has a life expectancy of 80.3 years; a Lithuanian berniukas has a life expectancy of only 68.5 years.

Netherlands on the European scale

The comparison between life expectancies in Europe is part of an elaborate survey presented by CBS. The survey includes data on a wide range of important social issues and is published on the occasion of the presidency of the Netherlands during the first half of 2016. The publication The Netherlands on the European Scale will be available from 4 January onwards.