Wharton Pension Research Council Working Papers

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Working Paper

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This paper demonstrates that, over the period 1948-2003, sex differentials in mortality in the age range 50-54 to 85+ widened and then narrowed on a cohort rather than on a period basis. The cohort with the maximum excess of male mortality was born shortly after the turn of the century. Three independent sources suggest that the turnaround in sex mortality differentials is consistent with sex differences in cigarette smoking by cohort. An age/period/cohort model reveals a highly significant effect of smoking histories on men’s and women’s mortality. This model suggests that improvements in mortality at older ages are likely to accelerate in the future.


Boettner Center for Pensions and Retirement Research Working Papers are intended to make research findings available to other researchers in preliminary form, to encourage discussion and suggestions for revision before final publication. Opinions are solely those of the authors.

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Copyright/Permission Statement

©2005 Boettner Center for Pension and Retirement Research of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. All Rights Reserved.


This project was supported by National Institute of Aging grant P30 AG12836 and by the Boettner Center for Pensions and Retirement Security at the University of Pennsylvania. We are grateful to Donna Hoyert from the National Center for Health Statistics and to David M. Burns of the University of California, San Diego for supplying certain of the data on which this study is based.



Date Posted: 06 March 2019