Using data from the UN World Population Prospects, we document global trends in lifespan inequality from 1950 until 2015. Our findings indicate that (i) there has been a sustained decline in overall lifespan inequality, (ii) adult lifespan variability has also declined, but some plateaus and trend reversals have been identified, (iii) lifespan inequality among the elderly has increased virtually everywhere, (iv) most of the world variability in age-at-death can be attributed to within-country variability. Such changes have occurred against a backdrop of generalized longevity increases. Our analyses suggest that the world seems to be facing a new challenge: the emergence of diverging trends in longevity and age-at-death inequality among the elderly around the globe – particularly in high-income areas. As larger fractions of the world population survive to more advanced ages, it will be necessary that national and international health planners recognize the growing heterogeneity that characterizes older populations.
Presented in Session 202. The Impact of Midlife Mortality on Population Health