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Life Expectancy and Mortality: Web Resources

Saturday, March 2, 2013

You may find the following resources useful if you decide to do any research on mortality, aging, life expectancy, or related topics. 

Life expectancy
The Global Terrestrial Observing System (GTOS) of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization offers a summary of the concept of life expectancy and the principal sources of worldwide data. The Berkeley Mortality Database offers life tables, birth and death rates, and historical life expectancy data for France, the U.S., Sweden, and Japan, drawn from census data and other information. The National Center for Health Statistics of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention publishes historical life expectancy data for the United States. In Canada, Statistics Canada maintains current and historical information about life expectancy at birth by gender and province. Meanwhile, the World Population Data Sheet of the Population Reference Bureau gives global data on current life expectancy by country and gender. An article titled “How much better can it get?” (by the Population Reference Bureau) outlines the debate between researchers who argue for and against fundamental biological limits on human life expectancy.

Life expectancy in Japan
Japanese life expectancies are among the highest in the world. The database pages of the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare offer detailed life tables for Japan along with information on historical trends on the leading causes of death. Japanese government predictions of the country's future population, along with the life expectancy assumptions on which those predictions rely, can be gotten from the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research.

Gender and life expectancy
In The World's Women 2000: Trends and Statistics, the United Nations Statistics Division provides a worldwide summary table of life expectancy and infant mortality for females and males. Historical data on life expectancy by age for males and females in the U.S., covering the period 1850 to 1999, can be found on the InfoPlease site. “Around the globe, women outlive men,”  from the August/September 2001 issue of Population Today, offers a color-coded global map of differences between male and female longevity and some notes on the reasons for the difference. An article from the Population Reference Bureau discusses the causes of the gender gap in U.S. mortality.

Mortality and mortality improvements
Beyond Six Billion: Forecasting the World's Population includes a chapter on mortality that details the causes of historical changes in mortality and the differences in mortality increase between different cultures. World Population Beyond Six Billion, a report by the Population Reference Bureau, discusses in some detail the long-term changes in population patterns since1900 and the nature and causes of historical mortality declines.

Aging populations
Organizations focused on the demography of aging include the National Institute on Aging, the Administration on Aging of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the University of Pennsylvania's Population Aging Research Center, and the Michigan Center on the Demography of AgingPreparing for an Aging World (2001) and Demography of Aging (1994), talk about the aging of the worldwide population from demographic and policy perspectives. A 10 March 2001 article in Science News called “Making sense of centenarians” describes the increase in 100-plus-year-old members of the population, and certain lifestyle, health, and genetic factors that may be contributing to that increase. The Population Reference Bureau has a variety of reports and articles on the older population, including Elderly Americans, an overview of the demographic characteristics and downstream social, health, and economic impacts of the rapidly aging population in the U.S.

Life expectancy forecasting
A report presenting the results of the 1996 population projection, provided by the Austria-based International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, includes a discussion of mortality assumptions that factor into such projections. World Population Futures, presented by the Population Reference Bureau, provides an overview of how future populations are forecast and discusses the uncertainties involved in projections of future mortality and life expectancy.

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