Adequate life-expectancy reconstruction for adult human mortality data
PLoS One, 13:6, e0198485 (2018)
Mortality information of populations is aggregated in life tables that serve as a basis for calculation of life expectancy and various life disparity measures. Conventional life-table methods address right-censoring inadequately by assuming a constant hazard in the last open-ended age group. As a result, life expectancy can be substantially distorted, especially in the case when the last age group in a life table contains a large proportion of the population. Previous research suggests addressing censoring in a gamma-Gompertz-Makeham model setting as this framework incorporates all major features of adult mortality. In this article, we quantify the difference between gamma-Gompertz-Makeham life expectancy values and those published in the largest publicly available high-quality life-table databases for human populations, drawing attention to populations for which life expectancy values should be reconsidered. We also advocate the use of gamma-Gompertz-Makeham life expectancy for three reasons. First, model-based life-expectancy calculation successfully handles the problem of data quality or availability, resulting in severe censoring due to the unification of a substantial number of deaths in the last open-end age group. Second, model-based life expectancies are preferable in the case of data scarcity, i.e. when data contain numerous age groups with zero death counts: here, we provide an example of hunter-gatherer populations. Third, gamma-Gompertz-Makeham-based life expectancy values are almost identical to the ones provided by the major high-quality human mortality databases that use more complicated procedures. Applying a gamma-Gompertz-Makeham model to adult mortality data can be used to revise life-expectancy trends for historical populations that usually serve as input for mortality forecasts.
Keywords: World, adult mortality, life tables, mortality