, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 439-454

First online:

The impact of heterogeneity in individual frailty on the dynamics of mortality

  • James W. VaupelAffiliated withInstitute of Policy Sciences and Public Affairs, Duke University
  • , Kenneth G. MantonAffiliated withCenter for Demographic Studies, Duke University
  • , Eric StallardAffiliated withCenter for Demographic Studies, Duke University

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Life table methods are developed for populations whose members differ in their endowment for longevity. Unlike standard methods, which ignore such heterogeneity, these methods use different calculations to construct cohort, period, and individual life tables. The results imply that standard methods overestimate current life expectancy and potential gains in life expectancy from health and safety interventions, while underestimating rates of individual aging, past progress in reducing mortality, and mortality differentials between pairs of populations. Calculations based on Swedish mortality data suggest that these errors may be important, especially in old age.