Dutch elderly on average much richer than 20 years ago

The current group of 65-year-olds and older in the Netherlands is much better off than the 65-plussers of 20 years ago, according to figures Statistics Netherlands released on Tuesday. The capital of 65-plus households increased from an average of 22 thousand euros annually in 1995 to 86,500 in 2015, ANP reports. 

In 2015 the income of this age group was five times higher than that of an average household, whose income was 17,300 euros in that year. Twenty years ago the picture was reversed, when the average income of the elderly was 22 thousand euros, compared to 23 thousand euros for the general population.

"Never before have over 65s had it as good as now. At the same time poverty among this group is historically low", Peter Hein van Mulligen, chief economist at Statistics Netherlands, said in a statement.

The increased capital among elderly Dutch lies in homeownership, according to the statistics office.The baby boomers in the current over 65 group, born between 1945 and 1950, in particular benefited from the post war prosperity when they entered the housing market in the 60's and 70's.

Over the past years it also became more and more common for people over 65 to have their own home. In the late 90's about one in three elderly owned their home. In 2008 it grew to 45 percent and in 2015 half of the over 65 year olds in the Netherlands had their own homes. Half of the elderly homeowners have a home with a market value above the purchase amount. Among the baby boomers, that is 60 percent.

According to Statistics Netherlands, this is a very large contributing factor to why the current over 65-year-olds' income is almost 30 percent higher than those of twenty years ago. "Once the picture was that over 65-year-olds had it hard. That was correct 20 years ago. Now this group has nothing to complain about when it comes to poverty." Van Mulligen said.

Statistics Netherlands emphasized that not alll people in this group are doing well. About 4 percent have a low income.

The risk of poverty for 65 years and older households also decreased over the past 20 years. Between 1995 and 2008, the number of elderly on a low income only increased in 2005. After the economic crisis hit in 2008, that number increased from 2009 and started decreasing again in 2014. 

According to Statistics Netherlands, the increase in the the retirement age for state pension is the main reason for the risk of poverty decreasing among over 65 year olds. "This allowed households with only a bare state pension to  end up above the low income line", the statistics office writes.