Period-Based Mortality Change: Turning Points in Trends Since 1950

Nadine Ouellette, University of California, Berkeley
Magali Barbieri, Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED) and University of California, Berkeley
John R. Wilmoth, University of California, Berkeley

In this paper, we investigate a major turning point in mortality trends at adult ages that occurred for many developed countries around 1970. We analyze patterns of total and cause-specific mortality over the past 60 years using data from the Human Mortality Database and the World Health Organization. We focus on four broad categories of causes of death: heart diseases, cerebrovascular diseases, smoking-related cancers, and all other cancers. We use a two-slope regression model to assess the timing and magnitude of turning points in mortality trends, with separate analyses by sex, age, and cause of death. The age pattern of temporal changes is given particular attention. Our results demonstrate clearly that period-based factors were very significant in the onset of the "cardiovascular revolution" around 1970 though cohort processes cannot be ruled out as having partly driven some more recent improvements (especially for mortality due to smoking-related cancers).

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Presented in Session 189: Adult Mortality I