People in the Netherlands have the longest working life in Europe

People in the Netherlands have the longest working life in Europe

Recent figures released by the European statistics office Eurostat reveal that those working in the Netherlands have, on average, a longer working life than those living in other countries in Europe. Dutch people can now expect to spend a total of 42,5 years of their lives working, compared to the European average of 36 years. 

Dutch people work for an average of 42,5 years 

Eurostat reports that those working in countries in Northern Europe, most notably Denmark, Sweden, and the Netherlands, experience the longest working lives in Europe, with the average employee in all three countries generally expected to spend over 40 years of their lives working. 

Anyone living in the Netherlands who turned 15 and thereby joined the labour force in 2021 - whether they currently have a job or are unemployed - will spend an average of 42,5 years working before being able to retire. Men tend to have an even longer working life, potentially staying in jobs for up to 44,3 years of their life. For women, on the other hand, it is slightly lower at 40,5 years.

Interestingly, while people in the Netherlands may spend more years in jobs, Leontine Treur - an economist at Rabobank - says they likely spend fewer hours actually working, instead opting to work part-time. “We don't work many hours a week, but we do work well into old age,” she told RTL Nieuws.

Length of average working life rising across Europe

Outside of the EU member states, Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland also recorded exceptionally long working lives (all of at least 41 years). The shortest working lives were recorded in Romania (31,3 years) and in several Southern European countries.

On the whole, Eurostat notes that the expected average duration of working life in Europe continues to increase for both men and women. In 2001, men were expected to work for 35,8 years, while for women it was just 28,8. This has now risen to 38,2 and 33,7 respectively.

Victoria Séveno


Victoria Séveno

Victoria grew up in Amsterdam, before moving to the UK to study English and Related Literature at the University of York and completing her NCTJ course at the Press Association...

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