DATABASES: The Facts of Life and Death

Science  24 Oct 2003:
Vol. 302, Issue 5645, pp. 541d
DOI: 10.1126/science.302.5645.541d

Birth and death are fodder for epic novels and the raw material for demographic studies. These two databases might not inspire a modern-day Tolstoy, but they brim with the numbers demographers covet. The Human Mortality Database features long-term records of births, deaths, population size, and life expectancy for 18 countries. The database, which opened last year, began when the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Germany joined forces with the Berkeley Mortality Database (NetWatch, 11 January 2002, p. 239). Coverage includes the United States, Germany, France, Russia, and Japan, and the data often stretch back to the 1800s or beyond. Accessing the figures requires free registration.

For demographic snapshots of more than 160 countries, click on this database from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For each country, the site provides data on year 2000 population size, birth and death rates, infant mortality, and life expectancy, along with projections for 2025.

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