The evolution of death rates and life expectancy in Denmark

Dato: 15. juni 2008

Skrevet af: Søren Fiig Jarner (ATP), Esben Masotti Kryger (ATP) & Chresten Dengsøe (ATP)

Udgivet i: Scandinavian Actuarial Journal (2008)

Abstract (på engelsk): 

From 1835 till today Denmark has experienced an increase in life expectancy at birth of about 40 years for both sexes. Over the course of the last 170 years life expectancy at birth has increased from 40 years to 80 years for women, and from 36 years to 76 years for men, and it continues to rise. Using a new methodology we show that about half of the total historic increase can be attributed to the sharp decline in infant and young age death rates up to 1950. Life expectancy gains from 1950 till today can, on the other hand, primarily be attributed to improvements in the age-specific death rates for the age group from 50 to 80, although there is also a noticeable contribution from the further decline in infant mortality over this period. With age-specific death rates up to age 60 now at a very low absolute level substantial future life expectancy improvements must necessarily arise from improvements in age-specific death rates for ages 60 and above. Using the developed methodology we quantify the impact of further reductions in age-specific mortality. Despite being one of the countries with the highest life expectancy at the beginning of the 20th century and despite the spectacular historic increase in life expectancy since then Denmark, in fact, is lacking behind compared to many other countries, notably the other Nordic countries. The main reason being an alarming excess mortality for cause-specific death rates related to ischaemic heart diseases and, in particular, a number of cancer diseases. Age-specific death rates continue to improve in most countries, and a likely scenario is that Denmark in the future will experience improvement rates at the international level or perhaps even higher as a result of a catch-up effect.