Examining Variance in World Life Spans since 1960

Ryan D. Edwards, Queens College (CUNY)

Variance in life span represents a fundamental inequality in well-being, and like shorter average life span, it is also an economic cost. Previous research has explored the trends in average life expectancy worldwide and economists have estimated their contribution to human well-being. Trends in the variance are less well understood because mortality data are either scarce or virtually nonexistent for developing countries. Statistical demographers and epidemiologists are now engaged in many efforts to improve mortality measurement in developing countries. In this paper, I report preliminary results from a new study of historical trends in the variance in the age at death that merely examines what we currently know about mortality in developing countries.

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Presented in Session 55: Methodological Issues in Health and Mortality