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Linking Changes in Inequality in Life Expectancy and Mortality: Evidence from Denmark and the United States

Gordon Dahl, Claus Thustrup Kreiner, Torben Heien Nielsen, Benjamin Ly Serena

NBER Working Paper No. 27509
Issued in July 2020
NBER Program(s):Economics of Aging, Health Economics, Labor Studies, Public Economics

We decompose changing gaps in life expectancy between rich and poor into differential changes in age-specific mortality rates and differences in “survivability”. Declining age-specific mortality rates increases life expectancy, but the gain is small if the likelihood of living to this age is small (ex ante survivability) or if the expected remaining lifetime is short (ex post survivability). Lower survivability of the poor explains half of the recent rise in life expectancy inequality in the US and the entire rise in Denmark. Cardiovascular mortality declines favored the poor, but differences in lifestyle-related survivability led inequality to rise.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w27509

 
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