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The importance of mortality tempo-adjustment: theoretical and empirical considerations

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  • Marc Luy

    (Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany)

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    Abstract

    Bongaarts and Feeney’s papers on tempo distortions stirred the world of demographers and divided their community into tempo supporters and tempo opponents. The number of scholars following the tempo approach in fertility continues to grow, whereas tempo-adjustment in mortality still is generally rejected. This rejection is irrational in principle, as the basic idea behind the tempo approach is independent of the kind of demographic event. Whereas tempoadjustments in the TFR mainly lead to higher estimates on the hypothetical family size under current fertility conditions, this paper shows that tempo-adjustments in life expectancy can provide a very different picture of current mortality conditions compared to conventional life expectancy. An application of the Bongaarts and Feeney method to the analysis of the mortality gap between western and eastern Germany yields remarkable results: The differences in survival conditions between the two regions still are considerably higher than generally expected, and the survival gap between the two entities began to narrow some years later than trends in conventional life expectancy suggest. Since life expectancy without adjustment for tempo effects is one of the demographic tools most frequently used to analyze mortality, the conclusion is that we may need to revise our current knowledge of mortality trends and the driving factors behind them.

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    File URL: http://www.demogr.mpg.de/papers/working/wp-2005-035.pdf
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany in its series MPIDR Working Papers with number WP-2005-035.

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    Length: 34 pages
    Date of creation: Nov 2005
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:dem:wpaper:wp-2005-035

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    Web page: http://www.demogr.mpg.de/

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    1. Arjan Gjonca & Hilke Brockmann & Heiner Maier, 2000. "Old-Age Mortality in Germany prior to and after Reunification," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 3(1), July.
    2. John Bongaarts & Griffith Feeney, 2002. "How Long Do We Live?," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., The Population Council, Inc., vol. 28(1), pages 13-29.
    3. Tomás Sobotka, 2004. "Is Lowest-Low Fertility in Europe Explained by the Postponement of Childbearing?," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., The Population Council, Inc., vol. 30(2), pages 195-220.
    4. Hans-Peter Kohler & Dimiter Philipov, 2001. "Variance effects in the bongaarts-feeney formula," Demography, Springer, Springer, vol. 38(1), pages 1-16, February.
    5. Kenneth W. Wachter, 2005. "Tempo and its Tribulations," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 13(9), pages 201-222, November.
    6. Shiro Horiuchi, 2005. "Tempo effect on age-specific death rates," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 13(8), pages 189-200, November.
    7. John R. Wilmoth, 2005. "On the relationship between period and cohort mortality," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 13(11), pages 231-280, November.
    8. James W. Vaupel, 2005. "Lifesaving, lifetimes and lifetables," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 13(24), pages 597-614, December.
    9. Ron Lesthaeghe & Paul Willems, 1999. "Is Low Fertility a Temporary Phenomenon in the European Union?," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., The Population Council, Inc., vol. 25(2), pages 211-228.
    10. James W. Vaupel, 2002. "Life Expectancy at Current Rates vs. Current Conditions," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 7(8), pages 365-378, August.
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