Volume 50 - Article 12 | Pages 347–376  

Ageing and diversity: Inequalities in longevity and health in low-mortality countries

By Cosmo Strozza, Viviana Egidi, Maria Rita Testa, Graziella Caselli


Background: Longevity and old age are two aspects of the same phenomenon, representing a major concern for modern societies. There is universal consensus among scholars about the need for new frameworks and measures to define older people in a more effective and dynamic way.

Objective: The aim of this paper is to compute prospective old-age thresholds (POATs) in six countries characterised by disparate progress in survival. To outline possible strategies to counter population ageing, the paper also examines trends in POAT and disability-free POAT (DF-POAT) in Italy by gender, geographical area, and education.

Methods: To compute the POAT, we use life tables from the Human Mortality Database (HMD) and the Italian National Institute of Statistics, Istat. In addition, to compute the DF-POAT, data on mortality and health by geographical area and education were retrieved from Istat.

Results: During the period 1950–2020 the POAT advanced everywhere, albeit in different rhythms by country, gender, and period. However, great differences in POAT and DF-POAT have emerged, depending on place of residence, education, and health.

Conclusions: The POAT changes the evaluation of population ageing and could reduce the alarm caused by measures based on static chronological old-age thresholds. Using Italy as a case study, we show that overcoming geographical and social inequalities would counteract the population ageing process.

Contribution: The paper highlights how individual and population ageing is a relative concept, as acknowledged by James W. Vaupel in his studies where he explores the equivalence between ages based on mortality risks.

Author's Affiliation

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