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MPIDR Working Paper

Losses of expected lifetime in the US and other developed countries: methods and empirical analyses

Shkolnikov, V. M., Andreev, E. M., Zhang, Z., Oeppen, J. E., Vaupel, J. W.

MPIDR Working Paper WP-2009-042, 50 pages (December 2009).
Rostock, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research

Keywords: USA

Abstract

Patterns of diversity in age at death are examined using e†, a dispersion measure that also equals the average expected lifetime lost at death. We apply two methods for decomposing differences in e†. The first method estimates the contributions of average levels of mortality and mortality age structures. The second (and newly developed) method returns components produced by differences between age- and cause-specific mortality rates. The US is close to England and Wales in mean life expectancy, but has higher life expectancy losses and lacks mortality compression. The difference is determined by mortality age structures whereas the role of mortality levels is minor. The difference is related to excess mortality at ages under 65 from various causes in the US. Regression on 17 country-series suggests that e† correlates with income inequality across countries but not across time. This result can be attributed to dissimilarity between the age- and cause-of-death structures of temporal mortality reduction and inter-country mortality variation. It also suggests that factors affecting overall mortality decrease differ from those responsible for excess lifetime losses in the US in particular. The latter can be related to weaknesses of health system and other factors resulting in premature death including heart diseases, amenable causes, accidents and violence.

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