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Future mortality: integrating smoking, alcohol and obesity (VIDI)

Information concerning future life expectancy is crucial for public policy, social security, pension and insurance schemes, and healthcare planning. However, estimates of future mortality often prove inaccurate, as conventional extrapolative mortality projection methods cannot capture (i) the impact of lifestyle ‘epidemics’, different over time between men and women, and across generations and countries; and (ii) the delay in ageing: the 90-year-olds of today roughly resemble the 80-year-olds of the past.

Key to mortality forecasting is distinguishing between:

  1. the general gradual long-term mortality decline, mainly due to socio-economic factors and associated medical improvements, and accompanied by a delay in ageing expressed as a shift in the age-at-death distribution towards older ages
  2. The smoking, alcohol, and obesity ‘epidemics’ which cause deviations from and variations in the general mortality decline, and greatly affect premature mortality and the shape of the age-at-death distribution.

Within this project these two components will be included simultaneously in a novel mortality projection methodology with the overall aim to improve the robustness of future mortality estimates for Europe.

Key objectives are:

  1. To assess the past and anticipated future trends in smoking-, alcohol-, and obesity-attributable mortality; and the differences in these trends across countries, sexes, and birth cohorts.
  2. To assess the roles of both the delay in ageing and changes in the shape of the age-at-death distribution in the gradual long-term mortality trend, and the changes in these roles over time.
  3. To develop a mortality projection technique that integrates future lifestyle-related mortality trends and future patterns in the age-at-death distribution, and to apply this technique to European populations.

This VIDI project is funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) (grant no. 452-13-001).

Featured publications

Janssen, F. (2019 ),
Similarities and differences in the mortality impact of the smoking epidemic in low-mortality countries, 1950-2014. Nicotine & Tobacco Research, ntz154. [URL]
Vidra, N. (2019),
The obesity epidemic in Europe: Assessing the past and current mortality burden and the future of obesity. PhD thesis. University of Groningen. 190 p. [URL]
Stoeldraijer, L. (2019),
Mortality forecasting in the context of non-linear past mortality trends: An evaluation. PhD Thesis, University of Groningen. 237 p. [URL]
Trias-Llimós, S. (2019),
Alcohol-attributable mortality in Europe: Past trends and their effects on overall mortality variations. PhD Thesis, University of Groningen. 169 p. [URL]
Janssen, F. (2018),
Advances in mortality forecasting: Introduction. Genus 74 (21): 1-12. [URL]
Beer, J.A.A. de, Bardoutsos, A. & Janssen, F. (2017),
Maximum human lifespan may increase to 125 years. Nature 546 (7660): E16-E20. [URL]

Other project publications are available on the Future Mortality project website:

Research team

Project website

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