When Deaths Exceed Births: Natural Decrease in Europe and the United States

Natural decrease occurs when deaths in an area exceed births. If such natural decrease is prolonged, there is a substantial risk of population loss. Seventeen European nations had more people dying than being born between 2000 and 2009, including several of Europe’s most populous countries. The United States, in contrast, has always seen births exceed deaths by a substantial margin. Our research focuses on the prevalence and dynamics of natural decrease in subareas of Europe and the United States in the first decade of the twenty-first century. We found that 58 percent of the 1,391 counties of Europe (NUTS3 units) had more deaths than births during that period compared to just 28 percent of the 3,137 U.S. counties. (See Figure 1)

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Birth Order and Mortality in Sweden

Does birth order matter? Over the past hundred years, this simple question has inspired a rancorous debate. For the past ten years, however, the growing consensus has been that yes, it does matter. It is becoming increasingly clear that, relative to first borns, later born siblings within the same family have lower educational attainment (Black, Devereux and Salvanes, 2005), lower cognitive ability (Bjerkedal et al., 2007; Barclay, 2015a), and worse health in adulthood (Barclay and Myrskylä, 2014).

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Prison Suicide in France: What Makes Inmates Vulnerable?

Nearly one in two deaths in French prisons is a suicide. Between 2005 and 2010, the annual rate averaged 18.5 suicides per 10,000 prisoners. This is seven times higher than the suicide rate among men aged 15-59, the group most similar to the French prison population in terms of sex and age characteristics.

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How Different is a College Degree From a Spouse?

More educated individuals face substantially lower mortality rates than less educated ones. In our recent paper Pijoan-Mas and Ríos-Rull (2014), we use data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) to compute expected longevity at age 50 for white males and white females of different education levels in the US (the focus on these age and race groups is because of sample sizes.) We find that the difference in expected longevity between college graduates and individuals without a high school degree is large: 6.6 years for males and 5.8 years for females.

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Explaining Gender Differentials in Child Mortality in India

Gender differences in child health and mortality pose a critical challenge for public health surveillance and policy in India. Recent Sample Registration System (SRS) reports indicate that female children experience higher mortality than boys. The 2012 SRS report pointed to a significant gap (9 per 1000 live births) in under-five mortality rates between males and females. However, the nature of gender differentials in child mortality is changing.

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Are Suicidal Behaviors Contagious in Adolescents?

It has become increasingly obvious that suicide attempts and deaths have both social and psychological causes. Though people in general are more familiar with the idea that psychological problems, such as depression, can put someone at risk of suicide, exposure to messages about suicide through our personal relationships or through the media also can increase an individual’s vulnerability to attempting suicide by making suicide seem like more of an option. Comedian Robin Williams’ suicide – and comments made online about his tragic passing and amazing life - illustrated the tension between our seemingly-innate desire to talk about and make sense of why people take their own life and the danger that irresponsible reporting or romanticizing comments may pose. Continue reading

Mortality in the Years of Recession: Evidence from Greece

Historical evidence strongly supports that economic growth and prosperity have been associated to declining mortality rates. To reinforce this principle, infant mortality and life expectancy are widely used as living standard indicators in cross-regional comparisons. While positive economic and social developments are concretized as gains in life expectancy, the recessionary implications on mortality rates are not that straightforward. Whether severe economic downturns affect the aggregate death rates has been the focus of much research, and findings are mixed. They appear to be sensitive to the choice of country, to the time period examined, and the length and intensity of the economic downturns.

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Should We Call “Life Expectancy” Something Else?

The most widely used indicator of the level of mortality in any population is the life expectancy at birth. This is entirely appropriate as the measure is usually an excellent reflection of the overall mortality conditions of a given year or other period. Similar calculations can be made for life expectancy any age, but the value at birth is by far the most commonly encountered in general discussion of health and mortality.

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Why Mothers in Slums May Prefer the Informal Healthcare Sector: Lessons from Dhaka, Bangladesh

Infant and child mortality has declined dramatically across the globe in recent decades, in large part due to public health measures such as universal vaccination, better nutrition and improved health care services. However, deaths remain much higher in poor disadvantaged populations, in part, because of such issues as lower vaccination rates. A critical issue is the delay in infants obtaining skilled health services during illness. Children’s caregivers may not initially realise the seriousness of the child’s condition and as a result may not access appropriate health services. Key inhibiting factors are limited knowledge of critical symptoms and restricted access to professional advice. In addition the caregivers may lack quick and affordable access to appropriate services. Continue reading

Alcohol, Substance Abuse and Crime Linked to Higher Mortality

My colleague, Torbjorn Skardhamar, and I recently carried out a study on the relationship between alcohol- and drug-related criminality on the one hand, and mortality on the other. We found that people with drug-related criminal records in Norway have a mortality rate that can be up to 15-16 times higher than people with no criminal record. We also found that people with a police record of driving under the influence of alcohol have significantly shortened life-spans compared to the overall population.

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