An analysis of mortality trends in developed countries, focusing on the recent slowdown in mortality improvements
There have been many questions asked about the recent slowing of mortality improvement in the UK and other countries. The Longevity Science Panel (LSP) has analysed population mortality trends between 1965 and 2015 across developed countries with particular attention to recent mortality improvements and concluded:
Mortality improvements rate after 2010 in most countries have been lower than that in previous years. The magnitude of the changes varies by country, gender and age bands.
The LSP has used historical international data from 1965 to 2010 to project mortality improvements rate beyond 2010 for people above age 50. For women, the observed mortality improvements after 2010 have been lower than projections, except in Denmark.
For men, the situation is less clear-cut. Out of 16 countries investigated with observed data from 2011 to 2015, ten countries, including the UK, have experienced lower mortality improvements than projected.
Comments from LSP:
Dame Karen Dunnell, the Chair of LSP, concluded: ‘Part of the slowdown in mortality improvement rates of the over 50s since 2011 would have been expected from historical trends in many countries, especially among men. There has been notable slowdown, compared with projections, since 2011 in many countries especially among women. But, there are some countries with higher mortality improvement rates than projected. A better understanding of the drivers behind these complex trends will inform policies.
Professor Debora Price, Professor of Social Gerontology at the University of Manchester said: ‘The gender issues highlighted by this report are very concerning and we need urgently to understand what is driving these. We know that austerity policies have fallen mostly on women – could this be part of the explanation for higher than expected deaths?’
Professor Steven Haberman, Professor of Actuarial Science at Cass Business School, City, University of London said: ‘Within the UK, there is also worrying evidence of widening gaps between the trends for the better off sections of society compared to the more deprived. We should expect continuing volatility in mortality rates as the population ages and with the increasing likelihood of more extreme weather events such as heat waves or cold snaps.’
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