Wider life expectancy gap between high and low-educated

© Hollandse Hoogte
The life expectancy of highly educated 65-year-olds has increased in recent years while it has remained the same for 65-year-olds with lower education levels. Over the period 2015 to 2018 inclusive, the life expectancy education gap was over 4 years for women and over 5 years for men. Furthermore, the education gap became wider for men in terms of disability-free life expectancy at 65. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports this based on the latest figures.

In the period between 2015 and 2018, the life expectancy of highly educated women at 65 was on average nearly 25 years. This is over 4 years more than among low-skilled women of the same age. In the period 2011 to 2014 inclusive, this education gap was still less than 3 years. Highly educated men aged 65 had a remaining life expectancy of over 22 years in the period 2015-2018. The gap between higher and lower educated men was more than 5 years, up from over 4 years in the previous period (2011-2014).

In the cohort of 65-year-old women over the period 2015-2018, 62 percent were lower educated while 12 percent were highly educated. This was 39 and 25 percent respectively among 65-year-old men.
In 2018, the average retirement age for Dutch employees stood at 65 years. Highly skilled employees retired on average 8 months earlier than low-skilled employees. The AOW state pension benefit started from the age of 66 years that year.

Life expectancy at age 65 (Years)
Levensverwachting in jaren op leeftijd 65Opleidingsniveau2011-20142015-2018
MenLow-skilled17.117.3
Medium-skilled18.819.3
Highly-skilled21.322.4
WomenLow-skilled20.720.4
Medium-skilled22.822.9
Highly skilled23.324.7

Education gap also wider in male disability-free life expectancy

Compared to the highly educated, there is a greater prevalence of hearing, visual and locomotor disability among low-skilled people. This applies to both women and men. In the period 2015-2018, the education gap in disability-free life expectancy for 65-year-olds stood at over 6 years.

For men, disability-free life expectancy increased by 2 years between 2011-2014 and 2015-2018. This increase was entirely on account of highly educated 65-year-old men. Disability-free life expectancy remained virtually the same for low-skilled men.
In both periods (2011-2014 and 2015-2018), 65-year-old lower educated men could expect to live another 12 years on average without disabilities. This was over 18 years for highly educated men in 2015-2018, versus nearly 17 years in 2011-2014.

For 65-year-old women, the number of remaining disability-free life years was 18 among the highly skilled and 12 among the low-skilled. There was no statistically significant increase in the education gap among women.

Disability-free life expectancy (Years)
Levensverwachting zonder lichamelijke beperkingen in jaren op leeftijd 65Opleidingsniveau2011-20142015-2018
MenLow-skilled12.312
Medium-skilled14.315.4
Highly skilled16.818.5
WomenLow-skilled11.911.8
Medium-skilled15.414.4
Highly skilled16.718

Highly educated have more healthy life years

The number of years people expect to live in good self-perceived health <toelichting> is closely related to their level of education. In the period 2015-2018, highly educated 65-year-old women had 17 more healthy life years on average, versus 11 for lower educated women. The remaining life expectancy of nearly 25 years for highly educated women at 65 therefore includes 17 healthy years on average. This is 69 percent of the remaining life expectancy. Lower educated women of that age expect around 11 more healthy years out of the slightly over 20 remaining years (55 percent).

In the same period, the average number of healthy life years expected by highly educated 65-year-old men was almost 16, versus 10 years among their low-skilled peers. For highly educated 65-year-old men, the share of years remaining in self-perceived good health is 70 percent of their total remaining life expectancy. This is 58 percent for low-skilled 65-year-old men.

The gap between highly skilled and low-skilled has remained the same through both periods in terms of the number of years they still expect to live in self-perceived good health.

Healthy life expectancy based on self-perceived health (Years)
Levensverwachting in als goede gezondheid ervaren jaren, op leeftijd 65Opleidingsniveau2011-20142015-2018
MenLow-skilled9.510
Medium-skilled11.712.6
Highly-skilled1515.7
WomenLow-skilled10.211.3
Medium-skilled14.414.6
Highly-skilled15.317.1