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Limits to Human Life Span Through Extreme Value Theory

Author

Listed:
  • Einmahl, Jesson
  • Einmahl, John

    (Tilburg University, Center For Economic Research)

  • de Haan, L.F.M.

    (Tilburg University, Center For Economic Research)

Abstract

There is no scientific consensus on the fundamental question whether the probability distribution of the human life span has a finite endpoint or not and, if so, whether this upper limit changes over time. Our study uses a unique dataset of the ages at death - in days - of all (about 285,000) Dutch residents, born in the Netherlands, who died in the years 1986-2015 at a minimum age of 92 years and is based on extreme value theory, the coherent approach to research problems of this type. Unlike some other studies we base our analysis on the conguration of thousands of mortality data of old people, not just the few oldest old. We find compelling statistical evidence that there is indeed an upper limit to the life span of men and to that of women for all the 30 years we consider and, moreover, that there are no indications of trends in these upper limits over the last 30 years, despite the fact that the number of people reaching high age (say 95 years) was almost tripling. We also present estimates for the endpoints, for the force of mortality at very high age, and for the so-called perseverance parameter.

Suggested Citation

  • Einmahl, Jesson & Einmahl, John & de Haan, L.F.M., 2017. "Limits to Human Life Span Through Extreme Value Theory," Discussion Paper 2017-051, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:tiu:tiucen:46b8d3f3-34c3-4936-90ee-8dc4e7086ce6
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    File URL: https://pure.uvt.nl/ws/portalfiles/portal/19635604/2017_051.pdf
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    Citations

    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Sam Watson’s journal round-up for 3rd June 2019
      by Sam Watson in The Academic Health Economists' Blog on 2019-06-03 11:00:40

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Dirk Broeders & Roel Mehlkopf & Annick van Ool, 2018. "The economics of sharing macro-longevity risk," DNB Working Papers 618, Netherlands Central Bank, Research Department.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    aging; endpoint; extreme value indez; oldest; statistics of extremes;

    JEL classification:

    • C12 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Hypothesis Testing: General
    • C13 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Estimation: General
    • C14 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Semiparametric and Nonparametric Methods: General

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