The Cross-sectional Average Length of Life (CAL)

Guillot, Michel
Working paper no. 2002-16


This paper presents a summary mortality index, the Cross-sectional Average Length of Life (CAL). By combining the mortality experience of various cohorts in a cross-sectional fashion, CAL complements traditional one-period or one-cohort indexes and enriches our understanding of population processes. First, CAL provides an alternative insight into the analysis of mortality. By taking into account the real mortality conditions to which individuals in a population have been subject, it tends to yield less favorable mortality levels than e0 and produces different rankings of mortality levels across countries. Second, CAL is a relevant index for the study of population dynamics. In particular, change in CAL over time shows the direct impact of mortality change on population growth, and the e0/CAL ratio for a given year shows the mortality-induced growth that can be expected given current mortality levels. It illustrates that mortality can play a non-negligible role in future population growth, even in the absence of future mortality improvements.