The trends in 13 cause of death categories are examined with respect to expectation of life, sex differences, and period effects while misclassification of cause of death is controlled. The results suggest that as mortality declines, 1) the increasingly U-shaped age pattern of mortality is a period effect associated with the infectious diseases, 2) the risks of both overall infectious and degenerative causes of death decline, and 3) infectious disease mortality declines more in males, while degenerative disease mortality declines more in females. Finally, the model shows that some contemporary populations are approaching the .limits of reduction in mortality during infancy, childhood, and young adulthood. Past declines in the degenerative diseases, however, suggest that mortality may continue to decline.

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