Abstract

This study attempts to verify age reporting on the death certificate for the “extreme aged” population and to evaluate the accuracy of recent death rates for this group in light of the findings. In addition, methods used and problems encountered in carrying out a record linkage study, particularly a low match rate, are identified. A sample of more than three thousand death records was selected from those filed for decedents age 85 and over in Pennsylvania and New Jersey in the 1968 to 1972 period. Death certificates of 53 percent of whites and 30 percent of nonwhites were linked to the 1900 U.S. Census. A comparison of age on the death certificate with the age reported for the same individual in the census record showed a high level of agreement for whites, except at ages 100 and over; for nonwhites, however, age agreement levels were substantially lower. Within racial groups, there was little difference by sex in agreement on age. These results, corroborating those of earlier studies, make it clear that nonwhite mortality at the oldest ages has been consistently understated in official statistics.

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