The education composition’s effect on life expectancy - are females racing towards longer lives while males get left behind?

Mikkel Bruun-Jensen, University of Southern Denmark
Vladimir Canudas-Romo, Max-Planck Odense Center on the Biodemography of Aging

This study aims to assess the impact that the changing education composition has on the life expectancy gap between the sexes from today until 2050 for Denmark. Individuals’ education is a determinant factor for the observed life expectancy in a population. Life expectancy is normally calculated solely from the observed age-specific death rates. Today, the age groups with the greatest impact on the measure are the age-groups with the highest death rates - the older generation. However, the older generations have a completely different educational composition than the younger generations. Thus, we study the possible effects that the changing education composition will have in the future Danish life expectancy. We propose the use of a weighed life expectancy, taking into account the changing education composition of a population. Using information of education and mortality from Danish registers, we construct scenarios of life expectancy up until 2050. Preliminary results indicate a widening in the life expectancy gap between the sexes is; this is in contrast to projections by the UN, which predicts a reduction in the gap. These previous calculations are associated with a number of limitations, which will be addressed in this study.

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Presented in Session 2: Mortality and longevity