We review the evolution of mortality in Spain during the XX century. At the same time we comment on the advances in life expectancy, at birth and at different ages, focusing specially on the timing of the changes. Life expectancy at birth is more and more used as an indicator of development, but history tell us that life expectancy increasing leads to population ageing. To take account population ageing, we propose a simple indicator that integrates the demographic structure of a society and the life expectancy of the individuals at their current age, we call this indicator life potential. Life potential allows us to asses the negative effect of population ageing and has been increasing in Spain during the XX century, but less than life expectancy at birth. Since 1980 life potential is decreasing because the negative effect of population ageing has been bigger than life expectancy improvements.life tables, life expectancies, life potential
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