Mortality divergence across industrialized countries

Magdalena Muszynska, Warsaw School of Economics

We propose a new approach to quantify cross-country disparities in health and their convergence/divergence over calendar time. Four basic indexes of relative disproportionality are applied to single-age and -year death rates in selected countries/regions. Those are: Gini coefficient, Theil index, mean logarithmic deviation and squared coefficient of variation. The same four indicators have been used by Goesling and Firebaugh(2004) to measure differences in life-expectancy. These measures can be decomposed to indicate contribution of selected countries, age-groups, and causes of death to total disparity. In the empirical application, based on data for 30 industrialized countries of HMD for the years 1960-2007, we demonstrate that only the 1960s was characterized by divergence in health conditions as result of decreasing mortality disparities at the very young ages. In the next decades, we observe constant divergence in health conditions, with growing contribution to the total disparity of the older adult ages.

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Presented in Session 1: International comparisons of health/mortality