Are mortality projections always more pessimistic when disaggregated by cause of death? (English) Zbl 0876.92032

Summary: It is often observed that mortality projections are more pessimistic when disaggregated by cause of death. This article explores the generality and strength of this relationship under a variety of forecasting models. First, a simple measure of the pessimism inherent in cause-based mortality forecasts is derived. Second, it is shown that the pessimism of cause-based forecasts can be approximated using only data on the distribution of deaths by cause in two previous time periods. Third, using Japanese mortality data during 1951-1990, the analysis demonstrates that the pessimism of cause-based forecasts can be atttributed mainly to observed trends in mortality due to cancer and heart disease, with smaller contribution due to trends in stroke (women only), pneumonia/bronchitis, accidents, and suicide. The last point requires the important qualification, however, that observed trends in cancer and heart disease may be severely biased due to changes in diagnostic practice.


91D20 Mathematical geography and demography
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