International Handbook of Adult Mortality

Volume 2 of the series International Handbooks of Population pp 511-532


Model Schedules of Mortality

  • Patrick HeuvelineAffiliated withDepartment of Sociology and California Center for Population Research, University of California Email author 
  • , Samuel J. ClarkAffiliated withAssistant Professor of Sociology, and a Research Affiliate of the Center for Studies in Demography and Ecology, University of Washington

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The observation of empirical regularities in mortality risks across many populations with reliable data (see Chapter 10 by Robine, this volume) led to the development of model schedules of mortality. These models are parsimonious representations of typical age and gender variations in the risk of death. These representations take one or a combination of two forms: mathematical and tabular. Mathematical representations incorporate empirical regularities in a parametric function linking each age to a mortality risk. Tabular representations incorporate these regularities in a set of tables showing mortality rates corresponding to different age groups. Each table is indexed by one or a few parameters. Hybrid representations combine both strategies by applying a parametric function to transform a “standard” table of age-specific mortality rates. Any parameter set thus yields a new table of age-specific mortality rates. In either mathematical, tabular, or hybrid form, a model mortality schedule requires only a few parameters to provide mortality risks over the life span that vary with age in a manner consistent with one of a few typical patterns observed in our massive extant mortality records.