, Volume 55, Issue 1, pp 341–359 | Cite as

How We Fall Apart: Similarities of Human Aging in 10 European Countries



We analyze human aging—understood as health deficit accumulation—for a panel of European individuals, using four waves of the Survey of Health, Aging and Retirement in Europe (SHARE data set) and constructing a health deficit index. Results from log-linear regressions suggest that, on average, elderly European men and women develop approximately 2.5 % more health deficits from one birthday to the next. In nonlinear regressions (akin to the Gompertz-Makeham model), however, we find much greater rates of aging and large differences between men and women as well as between countries. Interestingly, these differences follow a particular regularity (akin to the compensation effect of mortality) and suggest an age at which average health deficits converge for men and women and across countries. This age, which may be associated with human life span, is estimated as 102 ± 2.6 years.


Aging Health deficit index Europe Gender differences Human life span 



We would like to thank Kenneth Harttgen, Arnold Mitnitski, and Sebastian Vollmer for helpful comments. This article uses data from SHARE Waves 1, 2, 4, and 5 (DOIs:,,,; see Börsch-Supan et al. (2013) for methodological details. The SHARE data collection has been primarily funded by the European Commission through FP5 (QLK6-CT-2001-00360), FP6 (SHARE-I3: RII-CT-2006-062193, COMPARE: CIT5-CT-2005-028857, SHARELIFE: CIT4-CT-2006-028812) and FP7 (SHARE-PREP: N.211909, SHARE-LEAP: N. 227822, SHARE M4: N.261982). Additional funding from the German Ministry of Education and Research, the U.S. National Institute on Aging (U01-AG09740-13S2, P01-AG005842, P01-AG08291, P30-AG12815, R21-AG025169, Y1-AG-4553-01, IAG-BSR06-11, OGHA-04-064), and from various national funding sources is gratefully acknowledged (see

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Copyright information

© Population Association of America 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsUniversity of GöttingenGöttingenGermany

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