Deviating Trends in Dutch Life Expectancy: Explanation and Projection

  • Frederik Peters Frederik Peters

After almost two decades of slower improvement and partly even stagnating progress, Dutch life expectancy increased substantially since 2002. Both the long period of stagnation and the sudden resumption of improvements constitute deviations from the more regularly developing life expectancy trends in most other Western countries. The sudden reversal of trends in Dutch life expectancy greatly affected official projections of life expectancy, which became much more optimistic after 2002. Although such a positive outlook promises a great societal advancement it also poses a financial burden for the Dutch welfare state, particularly for the healthcare sector, the pension funds and life annuities. For better assessing the future trends of Dutch life expectancy and its societal consequences, the underlying reasons for the deviating trends in the past need to be identified. So far convincing evidence on factors driving the deviating development is lacking. The leading hypotheses focus on the impact of smoking to explain the stagnation and the impact of changes in healthcare expenditures to explain the resumption of improvements in Dutch life expectancy.

The aims of this thesis were first to evaluate whether the indicator period life expectancy adequately reflects underlying mortality conditions, second to explain the recent trend reversal from stagnation to resumption of improvements in Dutch life expectancy and third to assess how the deviating Dutch life expectancy trend could be extrapolated into the future. To address these issues, the Dutch situation was assessed within a group of comparable Western countries.

Netspar, Network for Studies on Pensions, Aging and Retirement, is a thinktank and knowledge network. Netspar is dedicated to promoting a wider understanding of the economic and social implications of pensions, aging and retirement in the Netherlands and Europe.

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