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    Mortality trends and prospects in developing countries: some "best-data" indications.

    Stolnitz GJ

    In: United Nations. Department of International Economic and Social Affairs. Population projections: methodology of the United Nations. New York, N.Y., United Nations, 1984. 60-6. (Population Studies, No. 83; ST/ESA/SER.A/83)

    This paper offers suggestions for guiding the next projection's exercise at the United Nations in light of third world life tables which, although severely limited, are believed to be relatively reliable. Of prime importance is the suggestion that expectation of life at birth in a number of less developed areas has begun to overtake and surpass the lower levels of such measures among the populations of developed countries. Although this is the 1st such occurrence on record, it is not likely to be reversed. A major implication of these patterns is that the causal linkages which have historically connected levels and patterns of socioeconomic development with those of mortality have become greatly attenuated. It is safe to say that major new causal mechanisms for reducing mortality have come into play which demographers have yet to comprehend adequately for purposes of projection. Another suggestion is to increase attention to the specific status and performance of national public-sector health programs (including water supply and sanitation) key factors affecting the onset and scale of mortality downtrends during the postwar decades. In addition, increasingly close attention needs to be paid to political disturbances, affecting health-care programs financing and associated delivery systems. With few exceptions, differences between female and male life expectancies at birth have been rising in the sample areas under review, implying that the gains over time for females have been higher than those for males. This directional pattern at both ages is remarkably similar to what has been found to hold with notable consistency among developed countries since 1920. Its prevalence suggests a bench-mark for checing the projected longevity differentials between males and females in the next UN exercise; at a minimum, these should be compared with past directions and magnitudes of change. Added or new attention should be given to comparisons between developed country and less developed country mortality measures; to how such measures vary by age at given points of time and shift by age over time; to sex differentials of both mortality levels and changes; and to the rapidly growing stocks of information becoming available on leading correlates of deaths, survival and morbidity rates. Such attention will enhance the quality, relevance and reliability of the future work of the UN on population projections.
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