Life expectancy at age 65

© Hollandse Hoogte / Bart Eijgenhuijsen
Statistics Netherlands (CBS) expects that the life expectancy at age 65 will increase to 20.5 years by 2023. This figure will serve as the basis for Dutch legislation on the future state pension entitlement age. The life expectancy forecast is part of the CBS population forecast which has been announced for publication on 19 December 2017.

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According to the latest forecast, life expectancy in the year 2023 will be lower than was foreseen previously in the 2016 forecast (20.7 years). This is due to the fact that the new forecast is based on updated mortality figures. There were more deaths over the last four months of 2016 and first eight months of 2017 than were expected in the previous forecast. Such fluctuations in actual mortality influence life expectancy slightly on a yearly basis.

Life expectancy at age 65, observations and forecasts

Graph life expectancy at age 65

The annual CBS population forecast aims to describe the most likely future demographic developments for the Netherlands. One aspect of this is the life expectancy forecast. For this, CBS uses a model which has been developed in the international scientific community. The model is based on the expectation that the steady declining trend in mortality across western Europe will continue in the long term , and this implies that short-term acceleration and deceleration in mortality have a less adverse effect on forecasts than when based solely on the Dutch trend. CBS indicates uncertainties around the life expectancy forecast by calculating forecast intervals (see the above graph). These give an impression of the expected accuracy of the forecast.

AOW legislation uses CBS forecast

The CBS population forecast is used to determine the future state pension (AOW) entitlement age as laid down in the General Old Age Pensions Act (Algemene Ouderdomswet, Section 7a). The Dutch government decided in November 2016 to raise this entitlement age to 67 years and 3 months as per 2022. The newly released forecast of life expectancy at age 65 in 2023 is used to determine the AOW entitlement age as per 2023.

Life expectancy at age 65
 Life expectancy at age 65Forecast 2023

Five years later than in 1956

Based on the present state of public health and medical technology, people at age 65 had an average remaining life expectancy of 19.8 years in 2016. This is over five years more than was the case in 1956, when the General Old Age Pensions Act was adopted. Progress in medical knowledge and technology as well as improved hygiene, nutrition and living conditions have contributed to a strongly decreased risk of premature death. Life expectancy does not increase evenly over the years. The trend may grow faster or slower in certain periods. Like in other western European countries, there was a significant increase in life expectancy at age 65 since 1950. This is now expected to amount to 20.5 years by 2023.

Half of 65-year-olds to reach age 86

The increased life expectancy means that more and more elderly people may expect to live far beyond the age of 65. According to the 1950 mortality rates, half of those who turned 65 in that year reached the age of 80. Half of those who turn 65 in 2016 will reach the age of 86 as based on the current mortality rates. The odds of reaching the age of 90 was 9 percent in 1950 versus 31 percent at present.