Mortality of Centenarians: A Study Based on the Social Security Administration Death Master File

Leonid A. Gavrilov, University of Chicago
Natalia S. Gavrilova, University of Chicago

SSA Death Master File (DMF) covers deaths that occurred in the period 1937-2003 and is considered by some researchers superior in quality to the official U.S. vital statistics. Some birth cohorts in DMF may be considered as extinct or almost extinct. Detailed information about birth and death dates of decedents allowed us to estimate hazard rates of older persons at each month of age. Study of three birth cohorts (1885, 1889 and 1891) showed that mortality grows steadily without deceleration from 85-90 to 102-105 years of age. Then statistical noise rapidly increases and mortality tends to decelerate. Life expectancy at age 80 depends on month of birth: persons born in April-June live shorter than persons born in October-November and this periodicity repeats in every birth cohort. However, by age 100 this dependence of survival on month of birth disappears indicating that centenarians indeed represent a selected population.

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Presented in Session 38: Centenarian Data: What We Know, What We Think We Know