Life Expectancy in Developed Countries Is Higher than Conventionally Estimated. Implications from Improved Measurement of Human Longevity

Dalkhat M. Ediev, Vienna Institute of Demography

We show that both the centuries-long tradition of conventional lifespan indicators and the more recent criticism of them ignore the true exposures of individuals to prevailing mortality levels. These exposures form a genuine part of a more comprehensive picture of the prevailing mortality conditions. In low-mortality countries, our estimated duration of human life is about 95 years, which exceeds the conventional estimates by 15 years. We show that mortality dynamics are characterised by considerable inertia. This is used to develop new methods of forecasting. Even if there were no further change in mortality conditions, conventional life expectancy at birth will rise to 90 years by 2050 in low-mortality countries. Conventional longevity indicators still provide a useful summary of the observed mortality rates which, in turn, are essential for population projections. However, they do not give the full picture of current mortality conditions and mislead about the prospects of human longevity.

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Presented in Session 189: International Perspectives on Health and Mortality