Journal Article

How much can we trust life tables? Sensitivity of mortality measures to right-censoring treatment

Palgrave Communications, 2:15049 (2016)

Abstract

International organizations, research institutions, insurance companies, pension funds, and health policy makers calculate human mortality measures from life tables. Life-table data, though, are usually right-censored and mortality measures are sensitive to the way censoring is addressed. In this article we propose fitting a parametric model that describes well human mortality patterns, the gamma-Gompertz-Makeham, accounting for censoring, and constructing model-based equivalents of five mortality measures: life expectancy, the modal age at death, life disparity, entropy, and the Gini coefficient. We show that, in comparison to life-table measures, model-based measures are less sensitive to the age at censoring and can be only slightly distorted even if the age at censoring is low. We also compare life-table and model-based mortality measures for a population with an underlying Gompertz mortality schedule in which a fixed proportion of the population is censored.
Keywords: life tables, mathematical demography, statistical analysis
The Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock is one of the leading demographic research centers in the world. It's part of the Max Planck Society, the internationally renowned German research society.