November 22, 2019 | News | Database Update
New Data on Longevity
Scientists who want to do research on very old people can roll up their sleeves: The International Database on Longevity provides new data sets from 14 countries. Olga Grigoriev, researcher in the DataLab, gives an overview of the most important innovations in an interview.
What data does the database provide?
The International Database on Longevity (IDL) is a unique data source that provides thoroughly validated individual-level data on supercentenarians (people who attained an age of 110 years or higher) and semi-supercentenarians (people who attained ages 105-109) for 11 European countries as well as for Canada (Quebec only), Japan, and the United States.
What is so remarkable about IDL?
Even in countries with very good statistical systems, routine population statistics that cover individuals of very high ages are often problematic. The proportion of erroneous cases increases sharply with age. The desire to measure human mortality at extreme ages was the main motivation for the establishment of the International Database on Longevity. The IDL is a uniquely valuable source of information on extreme human longevity. It provides high-quality age-validated individual-level data on the ages of semi-and supercentenarians. Moreover, the IDL is the only database that provides such data without age-ascertainment bias. It obtains its candidates from records of government agencies, as it ensures that there is no dependency between the probability of being included and age. Candidates who meet strict criteria for the validity of their age (date of their birth) are then included in the IDL. All this gives an excellent opportunity to study mortality trajectories of extreme longevity.
Are there also limitations in data availability?
Yes, there are some. The IDL does not provide exhaustive sets of validated semi- and supercentenarians for any country, because it is nearly impossible to find documents allowing the validation of the ages of all individuals on the list.
Recently there was an update, what does it look like?
The number of supercentenarians in the updated version of the IDL has more than doubled. Most importantly (in terms of data availability), data on semi-supercentenarians have been added. Currently, the database contains 18,299 individual records of semi- and supercentenarians from 14 countries (compared to 672 supercentenarians in the early version of the IDL).
That's impressive. Who is doing all the work and maintains the database?
The IDL is the result of the collaborative work of a group of international researchers and data providers. It is currently maintained by the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Germany and the French Institute for Demographic Studies (INED).
How can researchers get access to the data?
The data can be downloaded free of charge upon registration from the IDL website supercentenarians.org
Publication about IDL
Heidelberg [et al.]: Springer, Demographic Research Monographs 07. (2010)