Elevated Mortality Risk and Diminished Life Expectancy

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James E. Ciecka. 2021. Elevated Mortality Risk and Diminished Life Expectancy. Journal of Legal Economics 27(1): pp. 113–122.

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Elevated mortality risks translate into much smaller percentage changes in life expectancies. This point is easily appreciated by comparing male and female mortality rates and life expectancies in the US general population. Throughout much of life, male mortality exceeds female mortality by 50 percent and more; but male life expectancy usually is only 10 percent less than female life expectancy. However, the precise, or even approximate, quantitative relation between mortality risk and life expectancy is unclear. This note provides some insight into the relation between mortality risk and life expectancy by using basic life table mathematics and readily available mortality data. This note also shows that elevated mortality risks are associated with greater percentage losses in life expectancy as both men and women age. When comparing women to men of a given age, women incur smaller percentage losses than men.

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