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Reductions in Mortality at Advanced Ages: Several Decades of Evidence from 27 Countries

Vaino Kannisto, Jens Lauritsen, A. Roger Thatcher and James W. Vaupel
Population and Development Review
Vol. 20, No. 4 (Dec., 1994), pp. 793-810
Published by: Population Council
DOI: 10.2307/2137662
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2137662
Page Count: 18
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Reductions in Mortality at Advanced Ages: Several Decades of Evidence from 27 Countries
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Abstract

Can death rates be reduced for octogenarians, nonagenarians, and even centenarians? It is widely assumed that mortality at advanced ages is attributable to old age per se and that death rates at advanced ages cannot be substantially reduced. Using a larger body of data than previously available, the authors find that developed countries have made progress in reducing death rates even at the highest ages. Furthermore, the pace of this progress has accelerated over the course of the twentieth century. In most developed countries outside Eastern Europe, average death rates at ages 80-99 have declined at a rate of 1 to 2 percent per year for females and 0.5 to 1.5 percent per year for males since the 1960s. For an aggregate of nine countries with reliable data through 1991, the annual average rate of improvement between 1982-86 and 1987-91 was 1.7 percent for male octogenarians and 2.5 percent for female octogenarians.

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