, Volume 36, Issue 4, pp 475–495 | Cite as

Rectangularization revisited: Variability of age at death within human populations*

  • John R. Wilmoth
  • Shiro Horiuchi
Studies of Mortality, Morbidity, and Functional Limitations


Rectangularization of human survival curves is associated with decreasing variability in the distribution of ages at death. This variability, as measured by the interquartile range of life table ages at death, has decreased from about 65 years to 15 years since 1751 in Sweden. Most of this decline occurred between the 1870s and the 1950s. Since then, variability in age at death has been nearly constant in Sweden, Japan, and the United States, defying predictions of a continuing rectangularization. The United States is characterized by a relatively high degree of variability, compared with both Sweden and Japan. We suggest that the historical compression of mortality may have had significant psychological and behavioral impacts.


Life Expectancy Survival Curve Life Table Mortality Decline Mortality Change 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Population Association of America 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • John R. Wilmoth
    • 1
  • Shiro Horiuchi
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of DemographyUniversity of California, BerkeleyBerkeley
  2. 2.Laboratory of PopulationsRockefeller UniversityUSA

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