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A New Method for Determining Why Length of Life is More Unequal in Some Populations Than in Others

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  • Claudia Nau

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  • Glenn Firebaugh

    ()

Abstract

Why is there greater variability in individual longevity in some populations than in others? We propose a decomposition method designed to address that question by quantifying the effects of population differences in the spread, allocation, and timing of the principal causes of death. Applying the method to the United States and Sweden, we find that spread effects account for about two-thirds of the greater variance in age at death among American adults, meaning that two-thirds of the U.S.-Sweden difference would persist if the two countries differed only with respect to within-cause variance among adults. The remainder of the difference is due largely to allocation effects, with the greater incidence of homicides and fatal traffic accidents alone accounting for more than one-fourth of the greater variance in age at death among adults in the United States. Copyright Population Association of America 2012

Suggested Citation

  • Claudia Nau & Glenn Firebaugh, 2012. "A New Method for Determining Why Length of Life is More Unequal in Some Populations Than in Others," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 49(4), pages 1207-1230, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:demogr:v:49:y:2012:i:4:p:1207-1230
    DOI: 10.1007/s13524-012-0133-9
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Alyson Raalte & Hal Caswell, 2013. "Perturbation Analysis of Indices of Lifespan Variability," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 50(5), pages 1615-1640, October.
    2. Aggie Noah & Francesco Acciai & Glenn Firebaugh, 2016. "Understanding the contribution of suicide to life expectancy in South Korea," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 35(22), pages 617-644, September.
    3. repec:spr:demogr:v:54:y:2017:i:4:d:10.1007_s13524-017-0599-6 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Duncan Gillespie & Meredith Trotter & Shripad Tuljapurkar, 2014. "Divergence in Age Patterns of Mortality Change Drives International Divergence in Lifespan Inequality," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 51(3), pages 1003-1017, June.
    5. Glenn Firebaugh & Francesco Acciai & Aggie Noah & Christopher Prather & Claudia Nau, 2014. "Why Lifespans Are More Variable Among Blacks Than Among Whites in the United States," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 51(6), pages 2025-2045, December.
    6. Isaac Sasson, 2016. "Trends in Life Expectancy and Lifespan Variation by Educational Attainment: United States, 1990–2010," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 53(2), pages 269-293, April.

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