Lifespan dispersion in stagnant and decreasing periods of life expectancy in Eastern Europe

Jose Manuel Aburto, Max-Planck Institute for Demographic Research
Alyson A. van Raalte, Max-Planck Institute for Demographic Research

Life expectancy at birth has had an atypical pattern in Eastern European countries since the 1960s. Periods of rapid increase in life expectancy followed by stagnation and decreases have been documented. We analyze how lifespan variation has changed since the 1960's for 12 countries from this region and which ages and causes of death have contributed the most to the observed variability of age at death. We use high quality mortality data from the HMD and HcO, along with demographic techniques to disentangle the impact of specific ages and causes of death that drive changes in lifespan variability. We use e† as a dispersion indicator, which is defined as the average remaining life expectancy when death occurs; or life years lost due to death. Results show that during the last decades, lifespan variability has shown atypical patterns in Eastern Europe. The relative small changes witnessed since the 1960s have been driven by the trade off between premature and old age mortality, with sizable contributions above the threshold age and mortality worsening in young-adult ages. These findings challenge the common patterns observed in most developed countries and contribute to the life expectancy-disparity discussion by showing that compression levels do not necessarily mean higher life expectancy or mortality improvements. Although, these countries still experience high levels in lifespan disparity relative to those in western nations, our analyses have shown that the recent improvements in lifespan variability in Eastern European countries have mainly been driven by improvements in averting premature mortality. Although alcohol-related mortality has contributed to such improvements, non-alcohol mortality has decreased substantially at all ages, helping to meliorate health conditions in these populations.

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Presented in Session 82: Lifespan disparity and longevity