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Panel on Social and Biological Determinants of Longevity

James W. Vaupel (Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research)
Annette Baudisch (Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research)
Elisabetta Barbi (University of Messina)
Vladimir Canudas-Romo (University of Southern Denmark)
Magdalena Muszyńska (Warsaw School of Economics)
Council Liaison 
Emily Grundy (London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE))
IUSSP Secretariat 
Paul Monet (International Union for the Scientific Study of Population (IUSSP))



Workshop on The b Hypothesis and the Modal Age of Death, 
Rostock, Germany, 24-25 October 2011


This research workshop will take place at the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research. It will be a closed meeting of invited experts – demographers, bio-demographers, mathematical demographers, and biologists –, whose research focuses on the rate of ageing, selective survival, and mortality compression. 

Death rates at all ages have been dramatically reduced over time, resulting in a remarkable rise in human life expectancy. The evidence suggests that this lifespan revolution has not been caused by a slowing of the aging process. Demographers have shown that the rate of ageing has increased considerably over time.  Furthermore, it has been shown that the transition from high to low mortality has been accompanied by rapid and massive compression. However, for recent years, empirical findings are mixed. Changes in the shape of the distribution of deaths reflect changes in the age pattern of mortality improvement, that is in the rate of ageing. Reduction in mortality at younger ages lead to mortality compression whereas those at older ages lead to mortality expansion. In a paper published by Nature in 2010, James Vaupel has hypothesized that all individuals share the rate of increase in the chance of death due to senescence. Thus, when controlling for selection effects and health improvements, the rate of ageing would be constant over time and across countries. This workshop will seek to expand knowledge on the following questions: Do individuals, today and in the past, share the same or a similar rate of ageing? How has the shape of the age distribution of deaths changed in recent years? What is the connection between the rate of ageing and mortality compression?


Workshop on The Life Expectancy Revolution, 

Rostock, Germany, 12-14 May 2010.


The workshop will take place at the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research. It will be a closed meeting of invited experts. The workshop will consider four main questions: Why did life expectancy start to persistently rise in Scandinavia? Why did it start there early in the 19th century? Why did it spread to other countries later? Why has life expectancy in the best-practice country continued to rise linearly since 1840? Sessions will be based on different perspectives, including sessions on "What can we learn from causes of death?"; "What can we learn from studies of the impact of early-life events on later-life mortality?"; "What can we learn from the theory of heterogeneity?"; "What can we learn from the link between life expectancy and lifespan disparities?"; and "What can we learn from studies of Scandinavia's neighbours (including Schleswig-Holstein and the Swedish enclaves in Baltic Germany) and other countries?”.