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Objective: This study aims to gather direct estimates of mortality at older ages in two Latin American countries (Mexico and Costa Rica) using recent longitudinal surveys and to determine the socioeconomic status (SES) gradients for LE60.

Conclusions: Vital statistics correctly estimate elderly mortality in Mexico and Costa Rica. The higher-than-expected LE60 among Latin American males in general, and particularly among low-SES individuals, seems to be real; their determinants should be thoroughly investigated.

Methods: Data were collected from independent panels of approximately 7,000 older adults followed over more than a decade ‒ the MHAS and CRELES surveys. The age-specific death rates were modeled with Gompertz regression, and thousands of life tables were simulated to estimate LE60 and its confidence interval.

Background: Some existing estimates suggest, controversially, that life expectancy at age 60 (LE60) of Latin American males is exceptionally high. Knowledge of adult mortality in Latin America is often based on unreliable statistics or indirect demographic methods.

Results: LE60 estimates obtained from MHAS and CRELES are similar to those obtained from traditional statistics, confirming the exceptionally high LE60 of men in the two countries. The expected gradients of higher LE60 with higher SES are not present, especially among males, who even show reverse gradients (some exaggerated by data issues).

Figure 6a. Life expectancy for women in different countries, 2013. Source: Human Mortality Database.

Life expectancy reflects mortality in a population and is therefore an important indicator of public health status in a country or municipality.

Life expectancy in any given year shows how long we expect a child born in that year will live. The calculation is based on the assumption that the death rate in the future will be the same as when calculated. This would mean that for every coming year, as many will die in the first year of life, childhood and adolescence, adulthood and old age as died in 2016.

Lifestyle

In 2016, life expectancy was approximately 84 years for women and 81 years for men. There are large county and municipality differences as well as differences between educational groups.

Life expectancy is determined by mortality at all ages. When life expectancy in the early 1900s was much lower than today, it was in particular due to higher infant mortality.

If someone is married, has a higher education and has a spouse with a similar education level, life expectancy is 8-9 years higher than for unmarried people with primary education (Kravdal 2017).

Comments to Figures 3a and 3b

In general, Norwegians are more satisfied with their lives than the OECD average. When asked to rate their general satisfaction with life on a scale from 0 to 10, Norwegians gave it a 7.6 grade on average, much higher than the OECD of 6.5.

In terms of health, life expectancy at birth in Norway is 83 years, three years higher than the OECD average of 80 years. Life expectancy for men is 81 years, compared with 84 for women. The level of atmospheric PM2.5 – tiny air pollutant particles small enough to enter and cause damage to the lungs – is 4.6 micrograms per cubic meter, considerably lower than the OECD average of 13.9 micrograms per cubic meter. Norway also does well in terms of water quality, as 98% of people say they are satisfied with the quality of their water, compared with the OECD average of 81%, and one of the highest rates in the OECD.

Money, while it cannot buy happiness, is an important means to achieving higher living standards. In Norway, the average household net-adjusted disposable income per capita is USD 35 725 a year, higher than the OECD average of USD 33 604 a year. There is a considerable gap between the richest and poorest – the top 20% of the population earn four times as much as the bottom 20%.

In terms of employment, about 74% of people aged 15 to 64 in Norway have a paid job, above the OECD employment average of 68%, and one of the highest rates in the OECD. Some 76% of men are in paid work, compared with 72% of women. In Norway, about 3% of employees work very long hours, much less than the OECD average of 11%, with 4% of men working very long hours compared with just 1% of women.

Good education and skills are important requisites for finding a job. In Norway, 82% of adults aged 25-64 have completed upper secondary education, higher than the OECD average of 78%. This is slightly truer for women than men, as 81% of men have successfully completed high-school compared to 83% of women. In terms of the quality of the education system, the average student scored 504 in reading literacy, maths and science in the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), slightly higher than the OECD average of 486. On average in Norway, girls outperformed boys by 13 points, wider than the average OECD gap of 2 points.

Norway performs very well in many measures of well-being relative to most other countries in the Better Life Index. Norway ranks top in personal security and ranks above the average in subjective well-being, environmental quality, jobs and earnings, income and wealth, education and skills, housing, work-life balance, civic engagement, social connections, and health status. These rankings are based on available selected data.

Concerning the public sphere, there is a strong sense of community and high levels of civic participation in Norway, where 94% of people believe that they know someone they could rely on in time of need, more than the OECD average of 89%. Voter turnout, a measure of citizens’ participation in the political process, was 78% during recent elections, higher than the OECD average of 68%. Social and economic status can affect voting rates; voter turnout for the top 20% of the population is an estimated 90% and for the bottom 20% it is an estimated 76%, broadly in line with the OECD average gap of 13 percentage points.