An Analysis of the Effects of Major Causes of Deaths on Life Expectancy in Sri Lanka

S. A. C. S. Silva


The life expectancy at birth is considered as an indicator of economic and socialdevelopment of a country. The life expectancy in Sri Lanka which is about 73 years isconsidered exceptionally high compared to its per capita income level. This situationcan be further improved if the major causes of deaths are carefully targeted.

The objective of this paper is to analyse the effects of major causes of deaths onlife expectancy at birth. The seriousness of each major cause is ascertained bydetermining the increase in life expectancy at birth if each of the major causes iseliminated. Since the total elimination of a cause is not possible, the increase inexpectancy is also calculated if each of the causes is eliminated by a certain percentage.

The major causes were selected by considering the magnitude of the death ratiosfor the year 2004 published by the department of Census and Statistics in 2010.Theselected causes were diseases of circulatory system, external causes, diseases ofrespiratory system, diseases of nervous system, neoplasm and diseases of digestivesystem. The life expectancy at birth for the country was estimated using the familiartechniques. The cause-eliminated life expectancy was calculated by constructingseparate life table for each cause based on cause-eliminated probabilities of dying. Theproportional increase in life expectancy if the ith cause is eliminated by percentagewas estimated by the result , where is the minus weighted average oflogarithms of , the weights being the column.

The years of life that would be added if each of the six major causes waseradiated are 9.75 years, 1.77 years, 1.46 years, 1.41 years, 1.18 years, 0.64 years for themajor causes respectively. A ten percent drop in each of the major causes would raisethe life expectancy by 0.22 years, 0.16 years, 0.08 years, 0.052 years, 0.092 years, 0.056years, respectively. These results indicate that life expectancy at birth can be furtherimproved by carefully eradicating major causes by targeted percentages.

Key words: Life expectancy, Cause-Specific- Deaths, Cause-Eliminated probabilities,Cause- Eliminated life expectancy


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