Worldwide mortality in men and women aged 15-59 years from 1970 to 2010: a systematic analysis
Published in The Lancet, May 2010
- The adult mortality gap between countries is growing, a trend that runs contrary to the lessening of disparities in child mortality and in maternal mortality. The rates of adult mortality in Southern Africa are now higher than mortality rates were in Sweden in 1751.
- The United States has fallen significantly behind other countries in reducing deaths. In 1990, the US ranked 34th in the world in female mortality and 41st in male mortality, but by 2010, it had dropped in the rankings to 49th for women and 45th for men. This puts it behind all of Western Europe and lower-income countries such as Chile, Tunisia, and Albania.
- Women overall have seen their health improve more than men. In the 40 years between 1970 and 2010, adult mortality fell by 34% in women and 19% in men globally. The gap between adult male and female mortality widened by 27% in that period.
- The lowest risk of death in adults was recorded in Iceland (men) and Cyprus (women).
- Mortality rates for men and women in 37 countries are higher in 2010 than they were in 1990.
- Eastern Europe has seen one of the largest public health reversals of modern times. Russia has fallen from a rank of 43rd place for female mortality in 1970 to 121st.
- Since 2005, sub-Saharan Africa has seen strong mortality declines, a possible result of efforts to prevent new HIV infections and to treat AIDS patients with antiretroviral drugs.
- South Asia, and India in particular, had among the highest female mortality in the world in 1970. Both the region and the country have seen major declines. In 2010, it was better to be a woman in India than it was to be a man in the US in 1997.
- The list of countries with the lowest adult mortality has changed greatly. Only three – Sweden, the Netherlands, and Norway – remained in the top 10 for male mortality between 1970 and 2010.
Recommendations for future work
Data and Methods
Table 1. Mortality trends measured as the probability of death between the ages of 15 years and 60 years (45q15) per 1,000, from 1970 to 2010 (70KB xls)
Data for download. Adult mortality by country and sex, 1970-2008 (673KB xls)
For additional information, visit our Global Health Data Exchange (GHDx). The GHDx includes data records with information on more than 200 countries.