A reliable, though still incomplete description of the human life span is possible today only thanks to the foresight and careful management by government statisticians in various countries beginning with the foundation of Tabell-verket in Stockholm in 1749. Guardians of this tradition of public statistics, today's responsible officials in national statistical agencies, too numerous to be listed here, have generously contributed their time and counsel to the assembly of information for our database.

        The author is grateful to James W. Vaupel for having made possible the computerization of the data and the publication of this report, to A.R. Thatcher for joining his data on England and Wales to the database and to both for many stimulating discussions about the subject. Thanks are also due to Peter Laslett for furthering the study of the maximal length of life by several meetings in Cambridge. The author thanks Jens Lauritsen, Zeng Xuhui and Kirill Andreev for their assiduous work in computerizing the very large volume of data. In particular, Lauritsen has been instrumental in organizing the database under the supervision of Vaupel, and Andreev in producing the final tables and figures of this report. The author also thanks Lis Bluhtne and Lise Stark for typing the text, and Bemard Jeune for arrangements with the editor.

Comments on the present report should be addressed to me at Carnpo Grande 1-6-D, 1700 Lisbon, Portugal.

Väinö Kannisto

Updated by V. Castanova, 1 March 1999