Is It Time to Reconsider the Relevance of Tempo Effects in Mortality?

Marc Luy , Wittgenstein Centre (IIASA, OeAW, Univ. Vienna)
Paola DiGiulio, Vienna Institute of Demography, Wittgenstein Centre (IIASA, OeAW, University of Vienna)
Vanessa di Lego, Vienna Institute of Demography
Patrick Lazarevic, Vienna Institute of Demography
Markus Sauerberg, Federal Institute for Population Research

In 2002, Bongaarts and Feeney claimed in a controversially discussed paper that period life expectancy (LE) could be biased by - what they called - "tempo effects" (TE). They demonstrated their idea of this bias with a modelled scenario which was considered to be too hypothetical to describe a practically relevant situation of changing mortality. Seeming as the force of destiny, the hypothetical scenario of Bongaarts and Feeney became a reality in the years 2014 and 2015 what explains, at least, most of the decrease in LE which almost all European countries experienced between these two years. Almost paradoxically, the consideration of TE turns the interpretation of the 2015 decrease in LE into a very different direction: instead of being seen as an indicator for very unfavourable mortality conditions in 2015, it becomes a consequence of very favourable mortality conditions in 2014 which led to a shift of deaths from 2014 to 2015. We demonstrate the potentially strong impact of TE in recent LE trends with empirical data for several populations of Europe, and we discuss the factors which possibly caused the exceptional shift of deaths from 2014 to 2015 with the consequential tempo bias in LE in both years.

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 Presented in Session 22. Population Dynamics and Mortality