International Distributions of the Age at Death and Mortality Convergence
Ryan D. Edwards, Stanford University
Near-linear increases in life expectancy at birth in industrialized countries during the postwar period have been interpreted by some as indicating convergence to a single, universal mortality schedule. Although there has been much convergence in the mean age at death conditional on surviving to any age, convergence in the variance of the age at death has followed a different pattern. Universal reductions in infant and child mortality have raised life expectancies and lowered unconditional variances of the age at death, but there are differential trends in variances in the age at death conditional on early survival among advanced economies. Vastly different patterns of later-life variance in the age at death during the postwar period are suggestive of differential individual-level heterogeneity in health outcomes that may be connected to differential mortality decline.