Demographic Data

At a Glance Projects Publications Team


Human Life-Table Database

Conducted by Dmitri A. Jdanov; Lisa Körber, Vladimir M. Shkolnikov; in Collaboration with Magali Barbieri (University of California, Berkeley, USA and French National Institute for Demographic Studies, Paris, France), France Meslé, Jacques Vallin (both: French National Institute for Demographic Studies, Paris, France), Carl Boe (University of California, Berkeley, USA), Evgeny Andreev (National Research University – Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russian Federation)

Detailed Description

The Human Life-Table Database (HLD) documents the evolution of human longevity by providing a quantitative life-table description of mortality patterns. The database publishes period life tables, either complete or abridged ones. Most of them are life tables on national populations, officially published by national statistical offices. Some of the tables cover certain regional or ethnic subpopulations within countries. The database also includes nonofficial life tables produced by research organizations or researchers. It also provides methodological information on life-table calculation and the different approaches to publishing mortality data used in different countries in different times. 

Three international scientific institutions are involved in the HLD project: the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock, Germany; the Department of Demography at the University of California, Berkeley, USA; and the French Institute for Demographic Studies in Paris, France. The MPIDR is responsible for maintaining the database.

The HLD is a satellite project of the Human Mortality Database (HMD). In contrast to the HMD, it has no strong data quality requirements and includes a much broader range of national and subnational life tables, some of which might be less reliable than those published in the HMD. The HLD is essentially a collection of mortality data produced by different organizations or individual researchers using different methods; the data thus are not strictly comparable across time or populations. Moreover, the HLD provides several alternative life tables for the same population and year. HLD users should carefully examine which HLD data are more appropriate for their research.

The HLD was launched in 2002. A large set of life tables included in the database was collected by Väinö Kannisto, a former United Nations advisor on demographic and social statistics. J.W. Vaupel, the founding director of the MPIDR, provided the general guidance to the HLD project.

The HLD website was improved substantially in 2017. The database was redesigned to present tables for a larger number of national populations, and especially for various types of subpopulations within countries. The revamped database included about 4,700 new tables. A newly designed website for the HLD was launched in 2022. Currently, it provides more than 11,500 period life tables for 142 countries or geographic areas around the world. The database is updated on a regular basis: We add new countries, historical data, and include the most recent data. 

HLD data include two types of life tables: original life tables as published and recalculated life tables. The latter allow for comparability (as to the computation method) across countries and calendar years. All data are freely available and no registration is required to access it. A nonexhaustive list of publications that used and cited the HLD data is available on the HMD website.

Research Keywords:

Aging, Mortality and Longevity, Data and Surveys, Historical Demography, Statistics and Mathematics

Region keywords:



Andreev, E. M.; Shkolnikov, V. M.:
MPIDR Technical Report TR-2010-005. (2010)
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.