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Life Potential as a Basic Demographic Indicator

  • Francisco Goerlich

    ()

  • Ángel Soler

    ()

This paper proposes an indicator that integrates life expectancy with the demographic structure of the population for a given society. By doing this, we have a simple indicator of mortality and aging combined, which could be very useful for developed societies. As is widely known, life expectancy at birth is independent of the demographic structure of the population, and therefore is adequate for measuring overall mortality. However, it neglects to take into account the fact that as life expectancy increases society ages, and so looking at life expectancy alone can produce an overly optimistic view of the development process, especially if we pay attention to future sustainability. Aging can in fact affect quality of life and sustainability in the long run. The indicators for aging are usually very crude, such as providing information on the share of the population who are 65 and over. We propose a simple indicator that integrates life expectancy at different ages, not only at birth, with the demographic structure of the population at a given point in time. The indicator has an intuitive interpretation in terms of the life potential, or biological capital, of society; and given that it is a weighted average, its changes can be easily decomposed into reductions in mortality (gains in life expectancy) and aging for different age intervals. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2013

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s11205-011-9942-2
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Article provided by Springer in its journal Social Indicators Research.

Volume (Year): 110 (2013)
Issue (Month): 2 (January)
Pages: 537-548

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Handle: RePEc:spr:soinre:v:110:y:2013:i:2:p:537-548
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  1. Osberg, Lars & Sharpe, Andrew, 2002. "An Index of Economic Well-Being for Selected OECD Countries," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 48(3), pages 291-316, September.
  2. Li Gan & Michael D. Hurd & Daniel L. McFadden, 2005. "Individual Subjective Survival Curves," NBER Chapters, in: Analyses in the Economics of Aging, pages 377-412 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Michael Grossman, 1972. "The Demand for Health: A Theoretical and Empirical Investigation," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number gros72-1, December.
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