The pattern of mortality change in Latin America

Abstract

Using 69 new life tables recently made by Arriaga for Latin American countries by stable-population methods, the authors examine the mortality trends for more countries and more periods of history than have previously been available for analysis. For the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the new tables yield a substantially lower life-expectancy than that shown by previously published life tables; for recent decades the difference is smaller, though in the same direction. As a consequence, the new tables show a speed of mortality decline in Latin America greater than the speed hitherto assumed. When the trend is analyzed in terms of economic development, it appears that the decline was extremely slow in the more backward Latin American countries until around 1930, whereas in the more advanced countries of the region, a more rapid decline had set in before that. After 1930, however, in both groups of countries the pace of decline was faster than ever, and it was virtually the same for both groups, suggesting that after that date public health measures were exerting a strong influence independently of local economic development. This result is confirmed by comparison with the past history of now developed countries; the mortality decline in Latin America after 1930 was much faster than it was historically at the same level in the industrial countries. As compared with other underdeveloped countries today, the unprecedented decline of mortality in Latin America is typical. In most underdeveloped countries, whether in Latin America or elsewhere, mortality change seems increasingly independent of economic improvement and more dependent on the importation of preventive medicine and public health from the industrial countries.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  1. Arriaga, E. 1967. Rural-urban mortality in developing countries: an index for detecting rural underregistration. Demography 4:98–107.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Arriaga, E. 1968. New Life Tables for Latin American Populations in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. Population Monograph Series No.3. Berkeley; Institute of International Studies, University of California.

  3. Case Coghill C., J. Harley, and J. Pearson, 1962. The Chester Beatty Research Institute Serial Abridged Life Tables, 1841–1960. London: The Chester Beatty Research Institute, Institute of Cancer Research, Royal Cancer Hospital.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Davis, Kingsley. 1951. The Population of India and Pakistan. Princeton, New Jersey; Princeton University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  5. —. 1956a. Amazing decline of mortality in underdeveloped areas. The American Economic Review 46:305–318.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Davis, Kingsley. 1956b. The unpredicted pattern of population change. The Annals, American Academy of Political and Social Science, May: 53–57.

  7. Kuznets, Simon. 1956. Quantitative aspects of the economic growth of nations. Economic Development and Cultural Change 5:5–94.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Mortara, Giorgio. 1941. Estudos sobre a utilizacao das estadisticas do movimiento da populaeao do Brazil. Revista Brasilera de Estadistica, Year II, No.7: 493–538.

  9. Pan American Union. 1965. America en Cifras 1965 Situacion Exonomica: 4. Balanzas de Pagos Producto e Ingreso Nacionales, y

  10. Finanzas. Inter American Statistical Institute. Statistiska Centralbyran. 1955. Historisk Statistik For Sverige, I, Population 1720–1950. Stockholm.

  11. Stolnitz, George J. 1955. A century of international mortality trends: I.Population Studies 9:24–55.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. United Nations. 1962, 1966. Demographic Yearbook. New York: United Nations.

    Google Scholar 

  13. — 1956, 1966. Statistical Yearbook. New York: United Nations.

    Google Scholar 

  14. United States Bureau of the Census. 1940. Statistical Abstract 1940.

  15. — 1960. Historical Statistics of the United States, Colonial Times to 1957. Washington: Government Printing Office.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Eduardo E. Arriaga.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Arriaga, E.E., Davis, K. The pattern of mortality change in Latin America. Demography 6, 223–242 (1969). https://doi.org/10.2307/2060393

Download citation

Keywords

  • Life Expectancy
  • Life Table
  • Latin American Country
  • Dominican Republic
  • Underdeveloped Country