Journal Article

Latin American convergence and divergence towards the mortality profiles of developed countries

Alvarez Martinez, J. A., Aburto, J. M., Canudas-Romo, V.
Population Studies, 74:1, 75–92 (2020)
Open Access


It is uncertain whether Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) countries are approaching a single mortality regime. Over the last three decades, LAC has experienced major public health interventions and the highest number of homicides in the world. However, these interventions and homicide rates are not evenly shared across countries. This study documents trends in life expectancy and lifespan variability for 20 LAC countries, 2000–14. By extending a previous method, we decompose differences in lifespan variability between LAC and a developed world benchmark into cause-specific effects. For both sexes, dispersion of amenable diseases through the age span makes the largest contribution to the gap between LAC and the benchmark. Additionally, for males, the concentration of homicides, accidents, and suicides in mid-life further impedes mortality convergence. Great disparity exists in the region: while some countries are rapidly approaching the developed regime, others remain far behind and suffer a clear disadvantage in population health.

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.