The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd


  • James W. Vaupel
  • Kristín G. von Kistowski
  • Roland Rau
Reference work entry


Mortality is a demographic component that contributes to shaping the size, structure, and dynamics of populations. Life expectancy has been rising remarkably in the more developed countries since the 19th century and the process of rising life expectancy also has begun in most of the less developed countries. Increases in adult life expectancy and declines in birth rates result in aging societies. Survival is increasing as a result of progress in economic development, social improvements, and advances in medicine. However, death rates vary significantly in different parts of the world and are particularly high in sub-Saharan Africa.


Biodemography Central death rate Demography Fertility Gompertz law of mortality Health care Innovations Life expectancy Marriage and divorce Migration Mortality Pensions Population aging Standard of living Time-series analysis 

JEL Classifications

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Free Internet Sources on Mortality Data

  1. The Human Life-Table Database is a collection of life tables for more than 30 countries. Accessed 20 Aug 2006.
  2. The Human Mortality Database contains calculations of the death rates and life tables of almost 30 countries. Access to the data requires registration, which is free at Accessed 20 Aug 2006.
  3. The Kannisto-Thatcher Database on Old Age Mortality is tailored to analyse mortality at ages 80 and over. It has death and population counts by sex, age, birth year, and calendar year for more than 30 countries for ages 80 and above. Accessed 20 Aug 2006.

Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • James W. Vaupel
    • 1
  • Kristín G. von Kistowski
    • 1
  • Roland Rau
    • 1
  1. 1.