Demography Mortality and Health Statistics

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The last century has seen a dramatic longevity rise in the industrialized world. Some Web sites aim to document this phenomenon and to provide information that might lead researchers to the factors that have caused this life-span gain. The Human Mortality Database, a joint effort between researchers at the University of California, Berkeley and the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Rostock, Germany, currently provides detailed mortality and population data for 23 countries. Visitors can download and analyze these statistics to compare mortality trends in different regions over time. The site also provides links to other resources that contain useful information, such as cause of death, that is not included in the Human Mortality Database.

The National Center for Health Statistics at the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention contains a Data Warehouse on Trends in Health and Aging on its aging activities page. Users can view, chart, and download data on life expectancy, disability, insurance utilization, socioeconomic status and other measures for United States citizens over the last century or so. Furthermore, the site provides downloadable software for manipulating the information and tailoring it to individual needs. Some sites document types of demographic data other than mortality trends. For instance, the Utah Population Database contains an extensive set of Utah family histories, including medical information for individual family members. This database contains a cancer registry and information about cause of death. Access is free, but requires advance approval for use of the data.

The United States Administration on Aging provides statistics on the elderly, and the U.S. Census Bureau compiles census numbers relevant to aging.

For researchers focused on species other than our own, the Web-accessible book, Longevity Records: Life Spans of Mammals, Birds, Amphibians, Reptiles, and Fish, contains data on the highest documented age for more than 3000 mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, and fish.

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