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Divergence in Age Patterns of Mortality Change Drives International Divergence in Lifespan Inequality

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  • Duncan Gillespie
  • Meredith Trotter
  • Shripad Tuljapurkar

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Abstract

In the past six decades, lifespan inequality has varied greatly within and among countries even while life expectancy has continued to increase. How and why does mortality change generate this diversity? We derive a precise link between changes in age-specific mortality and lifespan inequality, measured as the variance of age at death. Key to this relationship is a young–old threshold age, below and above which mortality decline respectively decreases and increases lifespan inequality. First, we show for Sweden that shifts in the threshold’s location have modified the correlation between changes in life expectancy and lifespan inequality over the last two centuries. Second, we analyze the post–World War II (WWII) trajectories of lifespan inequality in a set of developed countries—Japan, Canada, and the United States—where thresholds centered on retirement age. Our method reveals how divergence in the age pattern of mortality change drives international divergence in lifespan inequality. Most strikingly, early in the 1980s, mortality increases in young U.S. males led to a continuation of high lifespan inequality in the United States; in Canada, however, the decline of inequality continued. In general, our wider international comparisons show that mortality change varied most at young working ages after WWII, particularly for males. We conclude that if mortality continues to stagnate at young ages yet declines steadily at old ages, increases in lifespan inequality will become a common feature of future demographic change. Copyright Population Association of America 2014

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:demogr:v:51:y:2014:i:3:p:1003-1017
    DOI: 10.1007/s13524-014-0287-8
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Joseph T. Lariscy & Claudia Nau & Glenn Firebaugh & Robert A. Hummer, 2016. "Hispanic-White Differences in Lifespan Variability in the United States," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 53(1), pages 215-239, February.
    2. repec:spr:demogr:v:54:y:2017:i:4:d:10.1007_s13524-017-0599-6 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Alyson van Raalte & Mikko Myrskylä & Pekka Martikainen, 2015. "The role of smoking on mortality compression," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 32(20), pages 589-620, February.
    4. Jose Manuel Aburto Flores & Alyson A. van Raalte, 2017. "Lifespan dispersion in times of life expectancy fluctuation: the case of Central and Eastern Europe," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2017-018, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
    5. Vanesa Jordá & Miguel Niño-Zarazúa, 2017. "Global inequality in length of life: 1950–2015," WIDER Working Paper Series 192, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    6. Hippolyte D'Albis & Loesse Jacques Esso & Héctor Pifarré I Arolas, 2014. "Persistent Differences in Mortality Patterns across Industrialized Countries," PSE - Labex "OSE-Ouvrir la Science Economique" hal-01061000, HAL.
    7. Chiara Gigliarano & Ugofilippo Basellini & Marco Bonetti, 2017. "Longevity and concentration in survival times: the log-scale-location family of failure time models," Lifetime Data Analysis: An International Journal Devoted to Statistical Methods and Applications for Time-to-Event Data, Springer, vol. 23(2), pages 254-274, April.
    8. 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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    Keywords

    Disparity; Health; Longevity; Retirement; Social policy;

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