The mortality and size of the extreme aged population can be studied most accurately with Medicare enrollment data from the Social Security Administration’s Master Beneficiary Record after certain types of questionable records are eliminated. With the improved data base we find that mortality rates at the very old ages are higher than published rates, we are more confident of the reality of the race crossover, and we can estimate the number of centenarians more accurately. Furthermore, a large matched-records study shows close agreement on age at death between the Master Beneficiary Record and the death certificate.

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