Mortality transformation

(Sep 1, 2008)

A tool often used by demographers is the distribution of age at death in a population.  This is known to actuaries as the curve of deaths, and the past 170 years have seen a rather remarkable transformation in this curve.  In the mid-19th century mortality was characterised by a very high rate of mortality in the early years of life, as shown in the chart below using the third English Life Table for males:

Distribution of age at death according to English Life Table 3

The dark band in the chart above shows the shortest adult age range in which half of all deaths occur.  From the late 20th century onwards mortality looks very different, as shown below for English Life Table 15 for males:

Distribution of age at death according to English Life Table 15

As before, the shortest age range covering half of all deaths is marked in a darker colour.  There…

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Tags: mortality transformation, curve of deaths, mortality compression

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