Long-term Mortality Changes in East Asia: Levels, Age Patterns, and Causes of Death

  • Zhongwei ZhaoEmail author
  • Edward Jow-Ching Tu
  • Jiaying Zhao
Part of the European Studies of Population book series (ESPO, volume 18)


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.


East 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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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zhongwei Zhao
    • 1
    Email author
  • Edward Jow-Ching Tu
    • 2
  • Jiaying Zhao
    • 3
  1. 1.Australian Demographic and Social Research Institute (Coombs Building), Research School of Social Sciences, College of Arts and Social SciencesThe Australian National UniversityCanberraAustralia
  2. 2.National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, Building 62, College of Medicine, Biology & EnvironmentAustralian National UniversityCanberraAustralia
  3. 3.Canberra CityAustralia

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