Adequate Life-Expectancy Reconstruction for Adult Human Mortality Data

Laszlo Nemeth , Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research
Trifon I. Missov, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research

Conventional life-table methods address right-censoring inadequately by assuming a constant hazard in the last open-ended age group. As a result, life expectancy can be substantially distorted. In this article, we quantify the difference between gamma-Gompertz-Makeham life expectancy values and those published in the largest publicly available high-quality life-table databases for human populations, drawing attention to populations for which life expectancy values should be reconsidered. We also advocate the use of gamma-Gompertz-Makeham life expectancy for three reasons. First, model-based life-expectancy calculation successfully handles the problem of data quality or availability. Second, model-based life expectancies are preferable in the case of data scarcity. Third, gamma-Gompertz-Makeham-based life expectancy values are almost identical to the ones provided by the major high-quality human mortality databases that use more complicated procedures. Applying a gamma-Gompertz-Makeham model to adult mortality data can be used to revise life-expectancy trends for historical populations that serve as input for mortality forecasts.

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 Presented in Session 9. Formal Models and Methods for the Analysis of Mortality