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The sensitivity of the Healthy Life Years indicator: Approaches for dealing with age-specific prevalence data

Vanessa di Lego, Vienna Institute of Demography
Markus Sauerberg, Federal Institute for Population Research

The Healthy Life Years indicator (HLY) has been developed for monitoring population health in Europe over time and across countries. In technical terms, HLY combines the period life table provided by Eurostat with the disability prevalence data obtained from the European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC). The combination of health and mortality data requires several assumptions both on the mortality and health part, but is especially important with regards to the prevalence of disability by age and its distribution. For instance, EU-SILC includes only people between age 16 and 84 (85+ is the last open age interval); therefore, additional assumptions for very young and old persons are required. The conventional approach assumes that the prevalence of being unhealthy for individuals younger than age 16 is half of the prevalence for 16 to 20 years-old. Further, the current procedure relies on prevalence data aggregated in 5-years age intervals, assuming a constant proportion of unhealthy individuals in each 5-years age interval. We test how current strategies are affected by different age intervals, smoothing methods and graduating mortality before computing the life table and evaluate implications regarding monitoring population health on the basis of HLY in Europe.

Keywords: Health and morbidity, Mortality

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  Presented in Session 135. Formal Models and Methods for the Analysis of Mortality and Causes of Death