How Do Cohorts Change? Selective Mortality across Cohorts Born in the 1920’s-1950’s in the Us and Finland

Yana Vierboom , Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research
Timothy Riffe, Universidad del País Vasco & Ikerbasque (Basque Foundation for Science)
Pekka Martikainen, University of Helsinki
Mikko Myrskyla, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research

Selective mortality is usually considered a nuisance, biasing results that condition on survival. However, selection is a key force shaping cohorts, and therefore a telling indicator of a cohort’s experiences. Despite this, little is known about how mortality defines cohorts, or how the process varies across contexts. Using data from the U.S. and Finland, we ask how mortality selection shapes a cohort across its lifetime, how the force differs across cohorts, and how these answers vary by country. We analyze changes within a cohort’s educational and racial/ethnic composition for cohorts born between 1920-1959. Preliminary results by educational attainment in the U.S. suggest striking variation by sex. While selective mortality increases the fraction of males born in the 1920’s with a college education by 50% over a 25-year period, patterns for women are almost flat. The results indicate that selection is important in shaping a cohort’s characteristics as it ages.

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 Presented in Session 22. Population Dynamics and Mortality