Historical Demography of the Exceptional Longevity in the United States

Natalia S. Gavrilova, University of Chicago
Leonid A. Gavrilov, University of Chicago

This study explores historical trends in the exceptional longevity in the United States with special emphasis on data quality and cohort effects. It takes advantage of the new opportunities provided by the ongoing revolution in information technology and Internet expansion for studies of exceptional human longevity. Data on claims of exceptional longevity reported in 1870,1880,1900,1910 and 1920 U.S. censuses are cross-checked and their quality evaluated. We also conducted a computer search for cases of exceptional longevity in a collection of over 4 million computerized historical family-linked records for persons born in the United States. While studying cohort effects in the U.S. birth cohorts we found that the following childhood conditions are linked to the subsequent survival to exceptionally old age: childhood farm background, birth in Western states, month of birth and birth order. This pilot study was supported by the National Institute on Aging and the Society of Actuaries.

Presented in Poster Session 5: Health, Mortality, Aging, Biology