Book Chapter

Mortality of the oldest old

Vaupel, J. W.
In: Smelser, N. J., Baltes, P. B. (Eds.): International encyclopedia of the social and behavioral sciences. Vol. 15, 10075–10079
Oxford, Elsevier Science (2001)


Remarkable progress has been made since 1950, and especially since 1970, in substantially reducing the mortality of the oldest old, i.e., people 80 years old and older. The improvements in survival have accelerated the growth of the population of very old people and have advanced the frontier of human survival substantially beyond the extremes of longevity attained in pre-industrial times. Theories of oldest-old mortality have proven inadequate and new thinking is required based on concepts such as mortality correlation, heterogeneity in frailty, and induced demographic schedules. New empirical findings, concerning both genetic and nongenetic factors that influence oldest-old mortality, are rapidly emerging. Differing views about the prospects for future reductions in oldest-old mortality are the main source of disagreement among demographers about how much life expectancy may increase over the twenty-first century. (© 2000 ELSEVIER SCIENCE LTD.)
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