World Mortality 1950–2000: Divergence Replaces Convergence from the Late 1980s

  • Kath Moser
  • Vladimir M. Shkolnikov
  • David A. Leon
Part of the International Studies in Population book series (ISIP, volume 6)

The objective of this chapter is to investigate to what extent worldwide improvements in mortality over the past 50 years have been accompanied by convergence in the mortality experience of the world’s population. A novel approach to the objective measurement of global mortality convergence is adopted. The global mortality distribution at a point in time is quantified using a Dispersion Measure of Mortality (DMM). Trends in the DMM indicate global mortality convergence and divergence. The analysis uses United Nations data for 1950–2000 for all 152 countries with populations of at least 1 million in 2000 (99.7% of the world’s population in 2000). The DMM for life expectancy at birth declined until the late 1980s but has since increased, signalling a shift from global convergence to divergence in life expectancy at birth. In contrast, the DMM for infant mortality indicates continued convergence since 1950. The switch in the late 1980s from the global convergence of life expectancy at birth to divergence indicates that progress in reducing mortality differences between many populations is now more than offset by the scale of reversals in adult mortality in others. Global progress needs to be judged on whether mortality convergence can be re-established and indeed accelerated.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. 1.
    United Nations Millennium Project (2000). Millennium development goals, from http://www.unmillenniumproject.org/html/dev_goals.shtm
  2. 2.
    United Nations Development Programme (2003). Human development report 2003. (New York: Oxford University Press)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Lee, J. W. (2003). Global health improvement and WHO: Shaping the future. The Lancet, 362, 2083–2088CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    World Health Organization (2003). The World Health Report 2003–Shaping the future. (Geneva: WHO)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Korzeniewicz, R. P. & Moran, T. P. (1997). World economic trends in the distribution of income, 1965–1992. American Journal of Sociology, 102, 1000–1039CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Timaeus, I. (1998). Impact of the HIV epidemic on mortality in sub-Saharan Africa: Evidence from national surveys and censuses. AIDS, 12 (Suppl 1), S15–S27Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Shkolnikov, V., McKee, M. & Leon, D. (2001). Changes in life expectancy in Russia in the mid-1990s. The Lancet, 357, 917–921CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Preston, S. H. (1976). Mortality patterns in national populations. (New York: Academic Press)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Omran, A. R. (1971). The epidemiological transition: A theory of the epidemiology of population change. Milbank Memorial Fund Quarterly, 49, 509–538CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    McMichael, A. J., McKee, M., Shkolnikov, V. & Valkonen, T. (2004). Mortality trends and setbacks: Global convergence or divergence? The Lancet, 363, 1155–1159CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Wilson, C. (2001). On the scale of global demographic convergence 1950–2000. Population and Development Review, 27, 155–171CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    United Nations (2001). World population prospects: The 2000 revision. (New York: United Nations)Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Kendall, M. & Stuart, A. (1977). The advanced theory of statistics. 4th edn., Vol. 1. (London: Charles Griffin)Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Shkolnikov, V., Valkonen, T., Begun, A. & Andreev, E. (2001). Measuring inter-group inequalities in length of life. Genus, LVII(3–4), 33–62Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Brass, W. (1996). Demographic data analysis in less developed countries: 1946–1996. Population Studies, 50, 451–467CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Timaeus, I. (1999). Mortality in sub-Saharan Africa. (In J. Chamie & R. Cliquet (Eds.), Health and mortality: Issues of global concern pp. 108–131). New York: Population Division, United Nations and Population and Family Study Centre, Flemish Scientific Institute)Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    United Nations (2002). World Population Prospects: The 2000 revision. Volume III: Analytical report. (New York: United Nations)Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Lee, J. W. (2003). Speech to the fifty-sixth World Health Assembly, 2003. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/dg/lee/speeches/2003/21_05/en/
  19. 19.
    Evans, T. & Stansfield, S. (2003). Health information in the new millennium: A gathering storm? Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 81, 856Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Lock, L., Andreev, E., Shkolnikov, V. & McKee, M. (2002). What targets for international development policies are appropriate for improving health in Russia? Health Policy and Planning, 17, 257–263CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Victora, C. G., Wagstaff, A., Schellenberg, J. A., Gwatkin, D., Claeson, M. & Habicht, J. P. (2003). Applying an equity lens to child health and mortality: More of the same is not enough. The Lancet, 362, 233–241CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kath Moser
    • 1
  • Vladimir M. Shkolnikov
    • 2
  • David A. Leon
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Epidemiology and Population HealthLondon School of Hygiene and Tropical MedicineUK
  2. 2.Laboratory for Demographic DataMax Planck Institute for Demographic ResearchGermany

Personalised recommendations