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The plateau of human mortality: Demography of longevity pioneers

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Science  29 Jun 2018:
Vol. 360, Issue 6396, pp. 1459-1461
DOI: 10.1126/science.aat3119

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Mortality rates level off at extreme age

The demography of human longevity is a contentious topic. On the basis of high-quality data from Italians aged 105 and older, Barbi et al. show that mortality is constant at extreme ages but at levels that decline somewhat across cohorts. Human death rates increase exponentially up to about age 80, then decelerate, and plateau after age 105.

Science, this issue p. 1459

Abstract

Theories about biological limits to life span and evolutionary shaping of human longevity depend on facts about mortality at extreme ages, but these facts have remained a matter of debate. Do hazard curves typically level out into high plateaus eventually, as seen in other species, or do exponential increases persist? In this study, we estimated hazard rates from data on all inhabitants of Italy aged 105 and older between 2009 and 2015 (born 1896–1910), a total of 3836 documented cases. We observed level hazard curves, which were essentially constant beyond age 105. Our estimates are free from artifacts of aggregation that limited earlier studies and provide the best evidence to date for the existence of extreme-age mortality plateaus in humans.

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