A Contrarian View: is the Room for Improvements in Life Expectancy in Latin America and the Caribbean Shrinking?

Alberto Palloni, Northwestern University
Mary McEniry, University of Wisconsin at Madison
Ana Luisa Davila, University of Puerto Rico
Alberto Garcia, University of Puerto Rico

Life expectancy prospects in Latin America and the Caribbean could be compromised. Older people attaining age 60 after the year 2000 carry the scars of experiences that can potentially translate into higher susceptibility to chronic conditions and higher levels of mortality. Once dismissed as unthinkable, declines in life expectancy already made their debut in modern societies: massively in Sub Sahara Africa with the HIV/AIDS epidemic and, more sparsely, but equally unexpectedly, in the former Soviet Republics. We argue that the route to further increases in life expectancy may be shutting down in LAC. However, unlike Sub-Saharan Africa and the former Soviet Republics, rerouting of longevity trends in LAC will be driven neither by sudden shifts of political regimes nor by the emergence of new diseases but, paradoxically, by conditions rooted on the unprecedented improvements in longevity that took place more than a half century ago.

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Presented in Session 23: International Perspectives on Health and Mortality