Volume 22 - Article 17 | Pages 505–538

The compression of deaths above the mode

By A. Roger Thatcher, Siu Lan Karen Cheung, Shiro Horiuchi, Jean-Marie Robine

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Date received:03 Feb 2009
Date published:26 Mar 2010
Word count:6868
Keywords:compression of mortality, Lexis model, logistic model, modal age of death, oldest old mortality decline, standard deviation


Kannisto (2001) has shown that as the frequency distribution of ages at death has shifted to the right, the age distribution of deaths above the modal age has become more compressed. In order to further investigate this old-age mortality compression, we adopt the simple logistic model with two parameters, which is known to fit data on old-age mortality well (Thatcher 1999). Based on the model, we show that three key measures of old-age mortality (the modal age of adult deaths, the life expectancy at the modal age, and the standard deviation of ages at death above the mode) can be estimated fairly accurately from death rates at only two suitably chosen high ages (70 and 90 in this study). The distribution of deaths above the modal age becomes compressed when the logits of death rates fall more at the lower age than at the higher age. Our analysis of mortality time series in six countries, using the logistic model, endorsed Kannisto’s conclusion. Some possible reasons for the compression are discussed.

Author's Affiliation

A. Roger Thatcher - Office for National Statistics, United Kingdom
Siu Lan Karen Cheung - University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong [Email]
Shiro Horiuchi - City University of New York, United States of America [Email]
Jean-Marie Robine - Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (INSERM), France [Email]

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