Journal Article

The population of centenarians in Brazil: historical estimates from 1900 to 2000

Nepomuceno, M. R., Turra, C. M.
Population and Development Review, 46:4, 813–833 (2020)
Open Access


Since the nineteenth century, the census has provided the number of 100-year-olds in Brazil, one of the most populous countries worldwide. In 1900, 4,438 individuals reported themselves to be centenarians, a figure that increased about fivefold by the 2000 census. However due to data quality issues, we are skeptical about the real size of the recorded population in the Brazilian census. We offer alternative estimates of the most likely number of centenarians during the 20th century by combining  variable-r relations  with different mortality models. Our results indicate  there was virtually no centenarian at the beginning of the twentieth century. The population has become larger than 1,000 individuals only in the 1990s, suggesting there has been an extensive, although improving, over-enumeration of centenarians in the census records. Our results can  help policymakers to plan the demands of a growing old age population in places that face stricter family and public budget constraints.

Keywords: Brazil, census data, quality of data
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.