The impact of violence on Venezuelan life expectancy and lifespan inequality
International Journal of Epidemiology, 48:5, 1593–1601 (2019)
Venezuela is one of the most violent countries in the world. According to the United Nations, homicide rates in the country increased from 32.9 to 61.9 per 100 000 people between 2000 and 2014. This upsurge coincided with a slowdown in life expectancy improvements. We estimate mortality trends and quantify the impact of violence-related deaths and other causes of death on life expectancy and lifespan inequality in Venezuela.
Life tables were computed with corrected age-specific mortality rates from 1996 to 2013. From these, changes in life expectancy and lifespan inequality were decomposed by age and cause of death using a continuous-change model. Lifespan inequality, or variation in age at death, is measured by the standard deviation of the age-at-death distribution.
From 1996 to 2013 in Venezuela, female life expectancy rose 3.57 [95% confidence interval (CI): 3.08–4.09] years [from 75.79 (75.98–76.10) to 79.36 (78.97–79.68)], and lifespan inequality fell 1.03 (–2.96 to 1.26) years [from 18.44 (18.01–19.00) to 17.41 (17.30–18.27)]. Male life expectancy increased 1.64 (1.09–2.25) years [from 69.36 (68.89–59.70) to 71.00 (70.53–71.39)], but lifespan inequality increased 0.95 (–0.80 to 2.89) years [from 20.70 (20.24–21.08) to 21.65 (21.34–22.12)]. If violence-related death rates had not risen over this period, male life expectancy would have increased an additional 1.55 years, and lifespan inequality would have declined slightly (–0.31 years).
As increases in violence-related deaths among young men (ages 15–39) have slowed gains in male life expectancy and increased lifespan inequality, Venezuelan males face more uncertainty about their age at death. There is an urgent need for more accurate mortality estimates in Venezuela.