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The Changing Pattern of American Mortality Decline, 1940-77, and Its Implications for the Future

Eileen M. Crimmins
Population and Development Review
Vol. 7, No. 2 (Jun., 1981), pp. 229-254
Published by: Population Council
DOI: 10.2307/1972622
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1972622
Page Count: 26
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The Changing Pattern of American Mortality Decline, 1940-77, and Its Implications for the Future
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Abstract

The trend in US mortality rates during 1940-77 can be divided into three distinct periods--two periods of rapid decline surrounding a period of little decline. The two periods of rapid decline, although somewhat similar in rate, were caused by different factors. In the first period, much of the decline was due to a reduction in deaths from diseases that were cured with antibiotics and similar drugs. Much of the recent decline is accounted for by decreases in cardiovascular diseases. This is the first time in history that mortality declines have been dominated by decreases in diseases of old age or degenerative diseases. Because this is so, we may be beginning a new era of mortality decline, which, if it continues, will lead to large increases in life expectancy at older ages.

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