Changes in the age-at-death distribution in four low mortality countries: A nonparametric approach

Abstract

Since the beginning of the twentieth century, important transformations have occurred in the age-at-death distribution within human populations. We propose a flexible nonparametric smoothing approach based on P-splines to refine the monitoring of these changes. Using data from the Human Mortality Database for four low mortality countries, namely Canada (1921-2007), France (1920-2009), Japan (1947-2009), and the USA (1945-2007), we find that the general scenario of compression of mortality no longer describes appropriately some of the recent adult mortality trends recorded. Indeed, reductions in the variability of age at death above the mode have stopped since the early 1990s in Japan and since the early 2000s for Canadian, US, and French women, while their respective modal age at death continued to increase. These findings provide additional support to the shifting mortality scenario, using an alternative method free from any assumption on the shape of the age-at-death distribution

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