The Changing Trend of Life Expectancy for the Chinese Elderly and its Rural-Urban Disparity

Yuan Peng, Huazhong University of Science and Technology
Lin Dong, Huazhong University of Science and Technology
Haili Liang, Huazhong University of Science and Technology
Liuqing Yang, Huazhong University of Science and Technology
Sha Jiang, Stanford University
Shripad Tuljapurkar, Stanford University
Zhen Guo, Huazhong University of Science and Technology

Using data from Population Censuses, 1% National Population Sample Surveys of China and the Human Mortality Database, this article adopts robust percentile-based methods to analyze the changing trend of life expectancy of the Chinese elderly and its rural-urban disparity from 1989 to 2015 based on international comparison. We find that e65 in China has increased continuously in recent decades, but at a lower speed than in developed countries, leading to a widening gap between China and developed countries. Similar patterns are found when we explore the rural-urban disparity of China. Based on the age-at-death distribution, we find that the old-age deaths in rural areas are more concentrated at relatively younger ages compared to urban areas due to the higher death risks and slower improvement in mortality of the young-old in rural China. Our findings describe the age-patterns underlying the rural-urban disparity in life expectancy of the elderly within China, and also the main reason for the slower improvement of life expectancy among the Chinese elderly compared with those in developed countries. Survival improvement of the young-old and equalization of available health services are key to reducing the rural-urban bias and achieving accelerated increase in LE among the elderly in China.

Keywords: Mortality, Older adults, Inequality, Longevity

See paper.

  Presented in Session 47. Mortality in Low- and Middle-Income Countries