Long-term Mortality Changes in East Asia: Levels, Age Patterns, and Causes of Death
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One of the most significant events in recent history has been the worldwide demographic transition. This transition started with mortality decline in some European countries around the beginning of the nineteenth century. While mortality reduction started late in most East Asian populations, their life expectancies have increased faster than those observed in Europe. In recent years, Japan and Hong Kong have achieved the highest life expectancy and led the mortality decline in the world. These changes raise many important research questions and have significant implications. This chapter examines long-term mortality changes in East Asia and compares them with those observed in England and Wales, France and Sweden. Its discussion particularly concentrates on changes in age-specific mortality rates and their contribution to the increase of life expectancies in recent history. To explain these changes and their patterns, the chapter also analyses changes in major causes of death and their impacts on mortality decline across different age groups. On the basis of its major research findings, the chapter concludes with a brief discussion of several factors and their contribution to the rapid mortality transition in East Asia in recent decades.
KeywordsEast Asia Mortality trends Epidemiologic transition Cause of death Age-specific mortality
The study is partly supported by the research grants for the projects “Mortality transition in Hong Kong and its major theoretical and policy implications” (RGC, HKUST6001 PPR 2), Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and “The study of the long-term relationship between mortality, climatic conditions and air pollution” (RGC, RPC10HSS01), Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.
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