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How Long Do Centenarians Survive?

Life Expectancy and Maximum Life Span

Life expectancy has doubled from 41 years in the 1830s to 82 years at present in Sweden. Similar trends can be observed in many other countries. Modig et al. (2017) ask whether the maximum length of life has also increased during that period. To explore the pattern of mortality above the age of 100, the researchers used individual level data on all Swedish and Danish centenarians born from 1870 to 1901 in their analysis, which equaled 3,006 men and 10,963 women. The data show that the oldest age did not increase during the last decades, but varied between 107 and 111 years for men and 109 and 113 years for women. Thus, the current increase in life expectancy is only driven by reductions in death rates below the age of 100. The authors point out that the reasons for the current lack of reduced mortality amongst centenarians are unknown, but that it is plausible that environment and lifestyle may have a significant role at younger ages and less of a role at older ages when biology becomes relatively more important. The findings of this study are of intrinsic scientific interest, but are also important for population projections and planning within the healthcare sector.


Original Source: Modig, K., Andersson, T., Vaupel, J., Rau, R. & Ahlbom, A. (2017): “How long do centenarians survive?: Life expectancy and maximum life span”, Journal of Internal Medicine. Supplement.