Explaining the recent increase in life expectancy of Danish women



After years of stagnation, life expectancy for women in Denmark is increasing again. A new study published today in PNAS by MPIDR researchers explains the reasons for this increase. Danish women’s life expectancy stagnated for decades before increasing again recently, and previous studies suggested that this stagnation was mostly due to high smoking prevalence in women born between the two world wars. In a new study published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, MPIDR director James. W. Vaupel and MPIDR researcher Roland Rau together with colleagues from the Max Planck Odense Center for the Biodemography of Aging compared mortality trends of women in Denmark with those of Sweden and Norway, who had relatively stable trends in life expectancy over the past century. The overall life expectancy of Danish women is much lower than that of Swedish and Norwegian women, and the researchers identified the cohorts that contributed the most to the differences in life expectancy. They found that the change in life expectancy of Danish women compared to Swedish women in the period 1975-2011 could be mostly explained by the high mortality of Danish women born 1915-1945, and in particular those born 1925-1934. The dying out of the interwar generation of women resulted in a more rapid increase in Danish women’s life expectancy compared to Swedish and Norwegian women, the authors suggest. “The study is one of the first to show the importance of incorporating cohort effects when studying life expectancy changes”, says Jim W. Vaupel.
Periode29. mar. 2016