A Note on the Compression of Mortality

Dalkhat M. Ediev, Vienna Institute of Demography

The rapid increase of human longevity has brought up questions about what implications it may have for the variability of age at death. Earlier works reported a historical trend of mortality compression. However, the period life table model, widely used to address mortality compression, produces an artificially compressed picture of mortality as a built-in feature of the model. We examine the durations of exposure of birth cohorts (also as compared to period mortality schedules) to selected levels of mortality observed at old age. We also examine the distribution of ages at death above and below the mode. Overall, mortality has been de-compressing already since the 1970s. The decompression of old-age mortality may indicate further optimistic prospects of ever-decreasing mortality. Mortality may well not be concentrated in the future within a narrow age interval but more dispersed along age groups, though at ever later ages on average.

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Presented in Session 162: Methodological Issues in the Study of Health and Mortality