The Role of Initial Mortality Conditions and Diverging Mortality Trends in Explaining Mortality Divergence

Alyson A. van Raalte, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research
Vladimir M. Shkolnikov, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research and New Economic School, Russia
Dmitri A. Jdanov, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research and New Economic School, Russia

We decomposed the 2009 gap in life expectancy at age 50 between the United States and 17 other high income counties into contributions from initial differences in age-specific mortality (1960) and differences in age-specific mortality trends (1960-2009). Decompositions were performed for all-cause mortality, mortality in the absence of smoking, and mortality in the absence of cardiovascular disease mortality. Results: The outlying American high early adult, low old age mortality pattern was stronger in 1960 than in 2009. Over 1960-2009, American women experienced weak declines over all ages, but American men experienced above-average declines over working ages and weak declines over oldest ages compared to other highly developed countries. The development of the outlying American age pattern of mortality and sex differences in mortality decline are not readily explained. More attention should be directed to theories that can account for these longstanding differences in the age pattern of mortality.

See extended abstract

 Presented in Session P5. Adult Health and Mortality